Life Cycle of the Gorillas – Life Expectancy of the Gorillas – when do gorillas become silverbacks?
When you hear the word life cycle, the first thing that comes into your mind is about insects, since they have different physical forms at different stages of life. However, the term life cycle refers to birth, growth and reproduction of any living thing regardless if it changes form. According to the life cycle of the Gorillas, it starts from infant, juvenile, young adult to mature adult. Though the longest living Gorilla is recorded at the age of thirty five years, the actual life span of mountain Gorilla is difficult to determine.
Female mountain gorillas give birth to a single baby after the time it carries the baby before giving birth. The gorilla takes nine months, just like human beings. However much gorillas are large animals, the newly born baby weighs in at just four pounds. They rely entirely on their mother. She carries them until they are four months old. Then, the babies are able to cling to her back, which they do until they stop nursing at two to three years old. At age three, mountain gorillas are independent, but not mature. This is their ‘juvenile’ stage, and it lasts until they are six or so. Females reach sexual maturity at about 10 years old, and males at 15 to 20 years old. This is the ‘mature adult’ stage. In the period between their juvenile and mature adult stage, they are young adults. To recap, the mountain gorilla life cycle looks like this.
Mountain gorillas live in groups comprising of 30 individuals being led by a single dominant male. Their leader is known as the silverback reason being that the male grows gray hair on their backs as they age. The rest among group members is made up of females and their young ones and at times there are one or two young adult males.
At the age of 35, gorillas start showing up distinct signs of age. Old mountain gorillas often suffer from arthritis which mainly damages the bones in their hands and feet. They also suffer from the loss of teeth thus a problem while feeding. For this case, it takes them longer to feed and to travel than the other group members. Gorilla groups adjust their activities accordingly and look after the aged members in a similar way as they treat sick individuals.
It is only the silverback that has total access to the females of the group. He is the only one that mates with them and he mates with several of them (gorillas are polygamous in nature), When males reach adulthood, they typically leave to form their own group in order to take over an established group. Though the male is dominant, it is the female that decides when to mate and when she is ready, she will approach the male. After having a baby, females will not mate again for several years and usually have only one baby after every four years. Their mating is not seasonal meaning that they can happen any time of year.
An adult Gorilla is a large animal, mostly of black color. But the darkness of color depends greatly on the geographical area from where the animal belongs. Female Gorillas start mating at the age of 8 years, and male Gorillas at the age around 12. After the mating process, the gestation period is about 8.5 months. The baby Gorilla is small and is covered with black hairs. The baby gorilla weighs about 2.5 kilograms and the mother keeps the baby in the hands. She is always careful and cautious about her baby not until they reach a particular age.
At the age of two, Gorillas can eat and chew branches. It is also said they develop twice as fast as normal human beings. When Gorilla is 3 years old, it is able to crawl and move from one place to other. The Gorilla becomes young at the age of 5 or 6 and it height stops increasing although at the age of maturity, mountain Gorillas get grayish or silver color hairs. That is why they are also known as ‘blackbacks’.