Zoo-Goers Are Left Speechless When A Silverback Gorilla Brawl Breaks Out

Family of gorillas
Marian Galovic/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: October 22, 2023

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St Louis Zoo in Missouri has an enviable reputation for being at the forefront of innovation when it comes to gorilla care. It participates in the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for gorillas and has a successful breeding plan aimed at supporting these declining species. However, the lucky gorillas that live there do not always get on!

Watch Three Gorillas Slug It Out Below!

Silverback Gorillas In Conflict

The action features two large silverback gorillas wrestling and chasing each other around the enclosure with a third, smaller gorilla trying to intervene – without much success! These are adult males and can be distinguished by their silvery-white hair. The ferocity of the fight shocks the human onlookers who gasp with concern. A fully grown adult male gorilla can weigh up to 400 pounds and some are up to five and a half feet tall. Some captive gorillas have lived into their fifties!

This battle really is like watching two large men in a fight! However, gorillas are usually gentle creatures and live peacefully together. As with many species, fights can break out amongst mature males. The conflicts are often related to dominance and mating rights with females.

Adult male gorillas have silver hair on their lower back

Gorilla Life And Habitats

There are actually four different subspecies of gorillas but they all share a lot of DNA with we humans. All of the subspecies are endangered or critically endangered and their survival is threatened by hunting for bushmeat, habitat loss, wildlife trade, and infectious diseases. As well as participating in very human-looking wrestling matches, they can learn a type of sign language and use simple tools.

Western lowland gorillas live in family groups and these are generally made up of an adult male and several females with their young. The group is stable and lasts for many years – until the male is challenged by a younger and/or fitter opponent.

Their habitats are lowland tropical rainforests although some live at higher altitudes and in bamboo forests. Gorillas are considered to be herbivores and can spend a large part of their waking hours searching for and munching on stems, bamboo shoots, and fruits, as well as bark. But they will not turn down an invertebrate or two if they come across them. Western lowland gorillas have been found breaking open termite nests and eating the larvae. Their habitats are under threat so initiatives like the one at St Louis are important.


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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