How Do Gorillas Reproduce?

Many people wonder how gorillas reproduce. Just like humans, gorillas pass through almost the same stages of adolescent, puberty, mating and reproduction. You can witness this by taking a a gorilla watching safari and get close to a family of gorillas in their natural wild.


According to the All About Gorillas website, at the age of 15 years, male gorillas are believed to start producing and female at 8 years of age. However, Gorillas in captivity seem to be ready to mate a couple of years earlier than those in their natural habitat.

There is no mating season among gorillas – mating can take place at any time of the year.

After 11 years of age, male gorillas leave the group to start their own groups. At that point they will venture out on their own and often join with other bachelors.

The female Gorillas will leave their initial group at about 10 years of age and venture alone until she finds a group with a dominant male that will let her in. All of this is part of nature’s way of preventing inbreeding from taking place within the gorilla family. When a female gorilla is ready to mate she will give off an odor that the males will pick up on and come for mating.

To mate with females in the same group, the male has to fight and defeat the dominant Silver back in order to get right to mate. They will generally only mate with the females within their own troop. There are times when a male is alone and can smell the females ready to mate that are part of another troop. Most of the time though these young males decide to back down once the silverback shows signs of aggression. They know they will be no match for his strength.

Gorillas are one of the only animals that are known to engage in different sexual positions like humans do. It takes about 8 ½ months from conception for the gorilla to give birth. It is almost always just one at a time but there are some rare cases of twins as well noted. They are from 4 to 4.5 pounds at birth.

Young Gorillas are nursed and cared for by the mother for about the first four years of life. What is very interesting is that the troop leaders who are the big and powerful males have been known to take on the role of caring for orphans that are part of their troop.

A baby gorilla riding on mothers back when the mother is moving from one place to another.

The mothers are often seen holding their offspring in their arms as we do with human babies. Gorilla mother can even fight male in the troop which try to act as threat to the young ones.

When the mother is looking for food the baby will hang on to her in the front. When it is about 6 months old it will ride on the back. They can’t walk on their own until about 8 months of age. She will continue to carry the baby for about the first 2.5 years of life. It is believed this is to protect the young and to form a very strong bond between the mother and the young Gorilla.

At the age of maturity and how much time they give to their offspring, each female may only have 3 or 4 of them in their lifetime. They are said to be among the best caregivers in the animal world.

Learn more about how gorillas reproduce

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