King Kong - GORILLAS

This image depicts an adult-male Eastern Lowland Gorilla living in Uganda. Males, of this Gorilla subspecies, are the largest living primates in the world. Fiver Löcker—from Wellington, New Zealand—took this photo, in Uganda, on September 26, 2009. License:  CC BY-SA 2.0


To prepare for his role as "King Kong," Andy Serkis studied gorillas - and their behavior - at the Dian Fossey Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda. For those of us who must study gorillas at a distance, however, what do we know about these endangered animals (who are sometimes called "gentle giants")?

Scientists at ARKive.org describe them as follows:

The gorilla is a heavily built primate and is the largest of the living apes. Until recently it was considered a single species, but DNA evidence has led to the recognition of the eastern and western populations as distinct species; Gorilla beringei and Gorilla gorilla, respectively.

Gorillas have a characteristic body shape with a broad chest, heavy neck and strong hands and feet. They have a fine, brownish coat, which has a red or auburn tinge on the crown, and mature males are known as 'silverbacks' due to the silvery-white saddle of hair extending from the back to the rump and thighs.

Male gorillas have a larger skull crest than females and other apes, together with larger canines and a more pronounced ridge above the eyes. Western gorillas are smaller and lighter bodied than eastern gorillas, because they must be agile climbers in order to reach fruits in the trees.

Thanks to the generosity of ARKive, we can view movies of eastern and western gorillas in their own habitat. Let’s take a look. 

Eastern gorillas:

  • First they pick ants from their fur - then they eat them.
  • Sometimes too heavy for a supporting branch, a "silverback" senses the best "fix" is to "start again."
  • Stripping bark from a banana tree, to get to its core, produces an excellent snack.

Western gorillas:

  • Show who’s "boss" of the territory;
  • Forage for food and construct a treetop bed - all as part of their daily life.

So ... is it far-fetched that Kong could interact with a human? Dian Fossey, over a number of years, made great progress with gorillas in their natural habitat.

And ... Jane Goodall's amazing work with chimpanzees at Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park (which includes touching encounters captured on film) cause us to wonder: Might the same thing be possible with a gorilla?

After all ... sometimes nature itself seems like science fiction. If the Cordyceps fungus can attack (and then actually grow out of) a jungle-insect’s body (like an ant), who can say what is really possible when two different species interact?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Mar 09, 2017

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"GORILLAS" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 01, 2005. Sep 26, 2018.
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