Of the three subspecies of gorilla,
the mountain gorilla is the largest
and rarest. Remarkably strong,
the mountain gorilla has a short
trunk and a broad chest and
shoulders. Males develop a
streak of silver hair on their
backs when they mature and
are called "silverbacks." 

Male mountain gorillas reach an average of 6 feet tall (when standing upright) and weigh 400 to 500 pounds, making them the largest of the great apes (chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas). Females are smaller, standing an average of 4 to 5 feet tall and weighing 150 to 200 pounds. 

Fewer than 650 mountain gorillas survive today in two geographically isolated populations. Approximately 320 gorillas inhabit the Virunga volcanoes region of Rwanda, Zaire, and Uganda, while the remaining number inhabits Uganda's Bwindi National Park. 

Mountain gorillas live up to 53 years in captivity. 

Mountain gorillas can be found only in the forest ecosystems of Rwanda, Zaire, and Uganda. 

The dense, forest ecosystems of the mountains of East Africa are the last remaining habitat of the mountain gorilla. 

Mountain gorillas eat large amounts of vegetation and spend about 30 percent of each day foraging for food. They consume roots, leaves, stems of herbs, vines, bark from trees, shrub-sized plants, and bamboo shoots. 

Mountain gorillas are shy, retiring animals. They live in social groups of 2 to 35 individuals. An adult male silverback is the leader and protector of his band, which consists of females and offspring. Silverbacks will charge anything that threatens them or their group and are known for their chest beating displays when in danger. 

Females reach breeding age at about 10 years old. They typically bear young every four to five years, giving birth after a gestation period of eight to nine months. Young gorillas cling to their mother's chests until they are old enough to ride on her back. A young gorilla remain with its mother until 5 years of age. 

Habitat destruction and poaching pose serious threats to the future of this species. 

Endangered Species Act, *CITES, Appendix I 
World Animal Foundation
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