Gorillas are the largest of the apes and have no natural enemies except for man. They make their home in the rain forests of Africa, near the equator. I was amazed to learn they were not discovered by man until 1847 . Can you imagine seeing a six-foot 450 pound gorilla for the very first time?
Dian Fossey began studying mountain gorillas in Africa in 1963. Four years later, she founded the Karisoke Research Center Rwanda and there among the gorillas for almost eighteen years. Although she died in 1984, her foundation continues her work. Best clicks are The Life of Mountain Gorillas (don't miss Life Facts) and the story of Isaro, A Curious Youngster (see Karisoke Kids.) "Typically, mountain gorillas live in groups that contain one or two adult males (ages 12 years or older, called silverbacks), several younger males (called blackbacks), adult females, juveniles and infants."
In 1971, Francine ''Penny' Patterson began teaching Koko, a newborn lowland gorilla, American Sign Language. Koko proved an able pupil, and her vocabulary has grown to 1000 words. First stop for elementary-age students should be the excellent Koko's Kids Club. Older students will find oodles of information about the amazing "talking" Koko in Koko's World and general gorilla background material in About Gorillas. Teachers can receive a free information packet by clicking on the Teacher icon at the top of the Kids Club.
"Mountain gorillas are endangered. Less than 650 remain in the wild." "The life span of a mountain gorilla is, in the wild, about forty years; in captivity, up to fifty years." These are just two of the Fun Facts you'll discover at this National Geographic Creature Feature. Best clicks are the audio clip of gorilla vocalizations, the Fun Facts, and the links to other featured creatures such as polar bears, hippopotamuses, and Nile crocodiles.
"Many people like to compare gorillas with humans, but there are several differences. Although they are able to stand upright, gorillas prefer to walk using their hands as well as their legs." San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes is a great place for school report research because all the important stats (height, weight, life span) are listed in the left-hand column, along with Fun Facts, and a multimedia collection of audio, video and photos.