Gorilla vs Lion: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: August 10, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Gorillas are typically larger and stronger than lions, with adult male gorillas weighing up to 400 pounds and standing up to six feet tall. In contrast, male lions typically weigh around 400 pounds and stand up to four feet tall.
  • Despite their size advantage, gorillas are generally herbivores and do not hunt other animals for food. Lions, on the other hand, are apex predators and are known for their hunting prowess.
  • In the wild, gorillas and lions have very different social structures. Gorillas live in groups called troops, led by a dominant male known as a silverback. Lions, on the other hand, live in a pride consisting of multiple females and one or more male lions.

Lions and gorillas are two creatures that roam parts of Africa. Both of them could easily dispatch human beings and other animals alike with insurmountable strength, speed, and natural weapons to attack and defend.

Unlike some theoretical fights between creatures, a gorilla and a lion could run into each other where their ranges meet. Our fight would take place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a place where lions live in the transitional area between tropical rainforest and savannah, and gorillas live in the rainforests.

What would happen if a hungry lion and an enraged silverback gorilla met to fight for the title of the true ‘King of the Jungle’? We’ve broken down the most useful information needed to determine who comes out on top after this fight.

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Comparing a Gorilla and Lion

gorilla vs lion
Gorillas vs. lions is a battle between two of the strongest animals in the world
LionsGorilla
SizeWeight: 264lbs – 550lbs
Length: 4.7 ft – 8.2ft
Weight: 220lbs – 440lbs
Height: 4.4ft- 5.1ft
Speed and Movement Type-35 mph
-Sprints to enemies
-25 mph
-Can move quickly with knucklewalking
Bite Power-650 PSI bite power
-30 teeth including up to four, 4-inch canines
-1,300 PSI bite power
-32 teeth including 2-inch fangs
Intelligence-Smart hunter that takes on enemies it is sure it can kill
-Brings other lions when taking down large prey
-Highly intelligent and capable of using tools and weapons to a small extent
Senses-Amazing sense of sight, especially night vision.
-Good sense of smell capable of smelling other lions’ markings.
-Great hearing allows them to hear prey miles away.
-Human-like sense of sight
-Good sense of smell
-Human-like sense of hearing  
Offensive Powers-Claws
-Paw strikes
-Scratching  
-Biting
-Open-handed strikes (can’t make fists)
-Biting
Predatory Behavior-Primarily stalks and pounces on the opponent
-Uses groups to take down prey
-Only prey is insects and crustaceans -Opportunistic predator

Is it Normal for Gorillas to Fight Lions?

Silverbacks Fight

Gorillas sometimes hit each other with sticks or rocks. It is normal for gorillas to fight lions – or any other predator – if they feel threatened.

©CXI/Shutterstock.com

They also sometimes hit each other with sticks or rocks. So, yes, it is normal for gorillas to fight lions – or any other predator – if they feel threatened. But overall, gorillas are gentle giants that pose little threat to humans in the wild. Gorillas in captivity have been known to have aggressive and sometimes fatal outbursts.

Gorillas are strong and powerful animals. They are known to be able to fight off lions and other large predators. So, is it normal for gorillas to fight lions? Gorillas are apes, not monkeys.

They are the largest living primates. Gorillas live in Africa and are found in the wild in countries like Uganda, Rwanda, and the Congo. There are two species of gorillas: the eastern gorilla and the western gorilla. The eastern gorilla is more populous, with about 5,000 individuals in the wild.

The western gorilla is much rarer, with only about 400 individuals remaining in the wild. Gorillas are vegetarians and mostly eat fruit, leaves, and stems. They also eat insects and other small animals. Gorillas use their hands to eat food and to build nests where they sleep at night. Gorillas are very social animals. They live in groups called troops.

A typical troop has 10 to 20 gorillas, led by a dominant male. Females and their young make up the rest of the group. Gorillas are generally peaceful animals, but they can be aggressive if they feel threatened. Male gorillas can be particularly aggressive when competing for mates or protecting their troops from rivals. When gorillas fight, they use their teeth and nails as weapons.

The 7 Key Factors in a Fight Between Gorilla vs Lion

lion roar

Lions have massive teeth and powerful bites.

©iStock.com/3dan3

Several key factors can determine the outcome of a fight between a gorilla and a lion. We’ve outlined these elements in the table above, but now it’s time to analyze exactly how each would come into play.

Gorilla vs Lion: Size

In most cases, the bigger animal is going to win a fight. They tend to be stronger and capable of using that strength to kill their enemy. Interestingly, the differences between a lion and a gorilla are not that substantial in terms of their size.

 A large lion can weigh upwards of 500 pounds and a large gorilla will regularly weigh about 440lbs. That’s roughly the same. However, the lion’s length can be upwards of 8 feet while the gorilla only stands about 5 feet tall.

In this case, the lion gets the advantage in terms of size, but not by much.

Gorilla vs Lion: Speed and Movement Type

Western Lowland Gorilla with strong, angry look on face

Gorillas are large, intelligent

mammals

.

©Jeff W. Jarrett/Shutterstock.com

Lions are very fast sprinters, clocking in at 35mph, faster than any gorilla can run by almost 10mph. Lions use their vast speed to build up the momentum needed to strike their enemies when ambushing them. Meanwhile, gorillas can run quickly using a knucklewalking method that sees them planting their hands on the ground and using that to help propel them forward.

Not only do the lions win this matchup in terms of sheer speed, but they use that speed as a weapon. A gorilla will run 25mph, but they will be wide open for an attack midstride.

 Lions get the advantage for speed.

Gorilla vs Lion: Bite Power

When fighting, both lions and gorillas will rely on their bite power to drive their teeth into their enemy and kill them. Although lions are renowned for their hunting prowess, their bite power measures 650 PSI, which is not much stronger than a large dog. They do have massive fangs, measuring 4 inches long each.

Gorillas are vicious biters, using their 1300 PSI bite strength to tear through tough plants as part of their feeding. When gorillas turn this bite strength on enemies, the results would be brutal. However, they are lacking in the fang department with just a 2-inch fang.

Gorillas have an advantage in bite power, but lions have far deadlier teeth.  

Gorilla vs Lion: Intelligence

When we look at raw intelligence, the gorilla has the advantage. They’re incredibly smart creatures that can use tools and have been trained to communicate with human beings through sign language.

In the case of useful intelligence and applying one’s intellect to a fight, the gorilla is somewhat limited. In a fight, they could pick up and throw sticks and items at a lion, but that would not be truly useful.

Lions are not as intelligent in terms of tools and communication, but they are smart. They are wise enough to prepare for attacks on enemies, waiting until they are vulnerable or bringing help to a fight.

Gorillas are smarter, but lions get the advantage of useful intelligence.

Gorilla vs Lion: Senses

Gorillas’ senses are roughly similar to humans in terms of hearing and sight, but their sense of smell is refined. They can pick up on odors from other creatures, especially other gorillas.  

A lion’s senses are far better. They have great vision during the day and amazing night vision. They can smell prey from up to 2 miles away in the right conditions, and their hearing is also acute.

Lions get the advantage in senses.

Gorilla vs Lion: Offensive Powers

The offensive powers of the gorilla are significant. They’re estimated to have 10 times their body weight in strength, and they’ll use every bit of that to slap, throw, and leap at their enemies. They can also bite and tear their enemies.

The lions have a lot of power behind them, too. While not as physically strong, they can use their deadly teeth to sink into prey’s most tender areas, instantly killing them. They can also latch onto an enemy and cut them into ribbons with their claws.

Although closer than other elements on this list, the lions get the edge in offensive capabilities.

Gorilla vs Lion: Predator Behaviors

On one hand, the gorilla is a rather mild and peaceful animal, using bluster, feints, and taunting to stop fights with other gorillas before they start. They’re not hunters. But when the fighting starts, they’re loud, aggressive, and utterly terrifying, landing fast blows in succession to overwhelm enemies.

On the other hand, lions are born predators. They will hide, wait, and ambush prey when they have the advantage, ensuring a swift strike ends a fight before it begins. In a prolonged fight against many adversaries, they will continue battling until the bitter end, but they eventually tire. Lions do best when hunting from stealth, but they’re capable fighters in any case.

As predators, lions get the edge.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Gorilla vs Lion?

What do lions eat - lion hunting zebra

Lions would win in a fight against a gorilla.

©Rostislav Stach/Shutterstock.com

A lion would almost certainly win in a fight against a gorilla. The reasoning should not be all that surprising. A lion will stalk and ambush a gorilla in the dense vegetation of their natural habitat by waiting until it’s dark to have the edge. They have a good chance of ending the fight in seconds.

From the second they crash into the gorilla, they would start landing a powerful bite on the head, neck, or another sensitive area that could put the gorilla down before it has a chance to react. They could bite and claw a gorilla, too, causing immense harm in just a few seconds.

Gorillas are too slow to run away even though they are smart enough to know they are in trouble.

However, if the gorilla knew the lion was coming, it might stand a chance. A powerful blow with their cupped hands or using a rock in their hand to smash a lion could turn the tables. They are both highly aggressive creatures, so a prolonged fight could be brutal. Even then, the lion would probably come out on top, making up for its relative lack of stamina with sheer power.

A lion has a good chance of killing a gorilla in a one-on-one fight. The only thing is that a lion rarely fights alone. Yet, even if this fight turned into a pack war between several creatures, lions would still come out on top because they have far larger groups.

Could Other Animals Take Down a Lion?

The gorilla seemed like a good match for the lion in many ways – but the lion’s predatory nature and skills gave it too much of an advantage. What if we put a lion up against another animal with its own particular set of skills? How would the lion do against another big brute like the gorilla but one with long teeth and claws and no problem killing prey? How would a lion do in a battle against a bear?

Bears can weigh 900 pounds or more and stand 9 feet tall on their hind legs when they fight. That’s pretty intimidating! Lions are 8 feet long and weigh 550 pounds – much smaller than the average bear. Both animals can run up to 50 mph on land – but the lions have much more stamina and can run at that speed much longer.

Both animals rely on their bite force to kill their prey – and both are among the most powerful. Bears have a crushing bite force of 1,200PSI with 3-inch teeth. Lions have a weaker bite force at 650PSI, but their canine teeth are 4 inches long.

Lions use their powerful front legs to wrap around prey as their claws dig in to hold them in place as they inflict the killing bite to the neck. Bears just use their massive strength to beat prey with paw strikes while scratching and biting with those crushing jaws and teeth.

Who would win in a battle between a lion and a bear? The bear would simply overpower the lion with its superior size and strength. The only way a lion could win would be for it to execute a textbook ambush and immediately deal the perfect killing bite to the bear’s skull – shattering it.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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