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The Largest Gorilla Ever Recorded (860 Pounds Silverback)

© credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch / made in St. Louis Zoo /,1%2C%20Phil%20died.

Deep in the dense forests of Central Africa, there lived a creature so mighty and majestic that it has captured the imagination of people around the world- a massive 860 lb Silverback Gorilla! 

With a muscular build and a distinct patch of silver hair on its back, the male silverback mountain gorilla is one of the largest primates on the planet. But did you know that it is also one of the most endangered? 

Join us as we explore the world of one of the largest apes that ever lived on this planet.

The Largest Gorilla Ever Recorded

© credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch / made in St. Louis Zoo /,1%2C%20Phil%20died.

Who is the Most Massive Gorilla Ever? There are two extraordinary sightings of giant silverback gorillas. One in captivity and one in the wild.

  • The heaviest and largest Gorilla ever recorded in the wild was a 6ft (1.83m), with a weight of 589 lb (267 kg) massive silverback. It was hunted and shot in the town of Ambam in Cameroon.
  • The biggest Gorilla ever found in captivity was even larger than the one found in Cameroon. It was a western lowland Gorilla named Phil. It weighed 860 pounds and was held in in the Zoo in St. Louis. It was born in 1940 and died in 1958.

Both of these gorillas were massive and much bigger than most of their relatives – almost twice their weight.

How did Phil the 860 Pounds Gorilla die?

Gorilla in Virunga National Park
© Nicholas Philipson

Unfortunately, Phil died in a hunger strike. The director of the St. Louis Zoo, George Wierheller, said: “Everyone is pulling for Phil. It’s all very discouraging. We are helpless.”

During his prime, Phil’s daily meals consisted of 22 pounds of vegetables, which he washed with two gallons of milk and a bottle of orange soda. However, on November 8, 1958, the zoo revealed the alarming news that Phil had lost his appetite and was beginning to lose weight.

Here is a statue of Phil:

Animals in zoos can refuse to eat for various reasons. However, it’s not the same for us humans. Animals do not consciously decide to stop eating to protest or make a statement as humans might do. Instead, loss of appetite in animals can be linked to physical or psychological issues (same as for Phil in St. Louis).

The Eastern Gorilla: A Giant Among Primates

silverback gorilla
Gorilla Shows Teeth. Image via Unsplash.

If you thought the male silverback mountain gorilla was impressive, wait until you meet the Eastern Gorilla. These gentle giants are the largest living primates, and they have captured the hearts and imaginations of people worldwide. 

How about we closely examine the Eastern Gorilla, including its physical characteristics, habitat, and distribution.

Description of the Eastern Gorilla species

African sunset with silhouette of the animals

The Eastern Gorilla is a type of gorilla that’s native to Central and East Africa. They’re similar to Western Gorillas but have some unique traits. 

Eastern Gorillas are classified into two subspecies: the Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) and the Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei). These awe-inspiring animals are the largest of the four gorilla subspecies and are often called Grauer’s Gorilla.

Physical Characteristics

silverback gorilla vs. grizzly bear
Gorilla via Deposiphotos.

Eastern Lowland Gorillas are incredibly impressive animals. Adult males can weigh up to 400 pounds and stand over 5 feet tall on two legs, making them one of the largest primates in the world. 

They have long, muscular arms and a broad chest, which give them the strength to climb trees and forage for food. 

Eastern Lowland Gorillas have dark fur that helps them blend in with their forest habitat and a distinctive silver saddle on their backs that develops as they age. Female Eastern Lowland Gorillas are smaller than males and typically weigh between 150-250 pounds.

Eastern Gorilla Comparison With Other Gorilla Species

western lowland gorilla
Western Lowland Gorilla. Image via Pixabay.

Compared to the Western Gorilla, the Eastern Gorilla is generally larger and has a broader face and chest. Eastern Gorillas have a longer and thicker coat that helps them stay warm in the cold, mountainous regions where they live. 

They also have longer hair on their arms, which provides additional insulation. In terms of behavior, Eastern Gorillas tend to be more docile and less aggressive than their Western counterparts, which may be due to differences in their social structures.

Where Can You Find Eastern Gorilla?

nyungwe forest rwanda
Early morning at the entrance of Nyungwe park, Rwanda. Jonkmania, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Eastern Gorilla is found in two distinct regions of Central and East Africa: the lowland forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the mountainous regions of Uganda, and Rwanda. 

These regions are some of the most biodiverse in the world, with a wide range of plant and animal species that have evolved to thrive in these unique environments.

Recent population trends

Sadly, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla is one of the most endangered primates on the planet. According to recent estimates, their population has declined by more than 50% in the last 20 years. 

The Mountain Gorilla: The Majestic Silverback

mountain gorilla

The Mountain Gorilla, also known as “Gorilla beringei beringei”, is one of the most iconic and fascinating species of gorilla in the world.

They are slightly smaller than their Eastern Lowland cousins but are still one of the largest primates on the planet. 

The most distinguishing feature of male Mountain Gorillas is their silverback, a patch of silver hair on their back that develops as they mature. 

Silverback mountain gorillas can weigh up to 400 pounds and stand up to 6 feet tall when fully upright. They have broad chests and muscular arms that allow them to climb trees and forage for food. Females are smaller than males and typically weigh between 200-300 pounds. (You can see The Most Massive Gorilla Ever is much bigger.)

Family groups

Gorilla Baby. Image via Unsplash.

Mountain Gorillas live in family groups called troops, which typically consist of one dominant silverback, several adult females, and their offspring. 

The Silverback is responsible for protecting the group and ensuring their safety. He also determines where the group will travel and when to stop and rest. 

Female Mountain Gorillas usually mate with the dominant silverback, and gestation lasts about 8.5 months. Young gorillas stay with their mothers for several years before striking out on their own.

Habitat and distribution

Gorilla vs. tiger

Mountain Gorillas are found in the high-altitude forests of the Virunga Mountains, which span the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Their habitat is threatened by deforestation, human encroachment, and civil unrest in the region. Despite these challenges, conservation efforts have been successful in protecting Mountain Gorillas and their habitats. 

Their population has increased in recent years, thanks to the hard work of conservationists and local communities.

Face Off: Who is the Biggest and Strongest Gorilla?

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When it comes to size and strength, both the Eastern and Mountain Gorilla are impressive creatures. However, when comparing the two, Mountain Gorillas is slightly smaller than the Eastern Lowland Gorillas.

Criteria Western GorillaEastern Gorilla
Average Adult Male Height5.6 ft (1.7 m)5.6 ft (1.7 m)
Average Adult Male Weight300-430 lbs (136-195 kg)330-440 lbs (150-200 kg)
Bite ForceApprox. 1300 PSIApprox. 1300 PSI
Lifespan35-40 years in the wild; up to 50 years in captivity35-40 years in the wild; up to 50 years in captivity
DietPrimarily herbivorous, including fruits, leaves, and small invertebratesPrimarily herbivorous, including leaves, stems, pith, fruit, and bamboo
ThreatsPoaching, disease, habitat lossPoaching, war, habitat loss
Conservation Status (IUCN)Critically EndangeredCritically Endangered
Notable SubspeciesWestern Lowland Gorilla, Cross River GorillaMountain Gorilla, Eastern Lowland Gorilla

In terms of strength, both gorilla subspecies are incredibly powerful. They have immense upper body strength and are capable of lifting several times their own body weight. However, the Mountain Gorilla’s smaller size may give it a slight disadvantage in terms of pure strength.

So, who is the biggest and strongest?

It’s a tough call, as both gorilla subspecies are incredibly impressive creatures. However, based on their size alone, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla reigns as the largest gorilla subspecies.

Regardless of size or strength, both Gorillas are incredible animals that deserve our respect and protection. Their populations are threatened by habitat loss, poaching, and disease, and it is up to us to ensure their survival for generations to come.

To learn more about primates or view our other primate content, click here!

Gorilla Facts: Everything You Wanted to Know (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Gorilla Babies by Nick P. via Unsplash
What is a Gorilla?

Did you know that gorillas are actually primates, just like humans, apes, monkeys, and lemurs? These magnificent creatures are the largest primates in existence and can only be found in the African continent. 
Interestingly, there are two distinct species of gorillas: the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and the Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei).

What are the Largest Gorilla Subspecies?

Of the two gorilla species, the Eastern Gorilla has the largest subspecies. The Eastern Lowland Gorilla, also known as the Grauer’s Gorilla, is the largest subspecies of gorilla, with adult males weighing up to 400 pounds and standing over 5 feet tall on two legs. 
The Mountain Gorilla, a subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla, is slightly smaller but still one of the largest primates on the planet.

How do Gorillas Compare to Other Primates?

Gorillas are much larger than most other primates, including humans. They have a distinctive body shape, with a broad chest, long arms, and massive hands and feet. 
Gorillas also have a unique set of physical characteristics, including a sagittal crest (a ridge of bone on the top of their skull), large nostrils, and small ears.

Why do Gorillas Get So Big?

Gorillas get so big because of their diet. They are herbivores, which means they eat only plants. To sustain their large bodies, they must consume a large amount of vegetation, including leaves, stems, and fruits.
Gorillas also have a slow metabolic rate, which means they can conserve energy and store fat more efficiently than other primates.

Which monkey is stronger than Gorilla?

None. Monkeys are not stronger than gorillas. Gorillas are one of the strongest animals on the planet and can lift up to 10 times their body weight.

Would a gorilla beat a bear?

It’s difficult to say for sure. Both animals are incredibly strong and have powerful natural weapons. However, bears are known for their agility and speed, while gorillas rely more on their strength. In a fight, it’s possible that the winner would depend on the circumstances and specific animals involved.

Who would win Tiger vs. Gorilla?

A tiger would most likely win in a fight against a gorilla. Tigers are much faster and more agile than gorillas, and their sharp claws and teeth are powerful weapons. Gorillas are not natural predators and are not equipped to handle an animal like a tiger.

Who would win gorilla or Crocodile?

It’s unlikely that a gorilla could defeat a crocodile. Crocodiles are excellent hunters with powerful jaws and sharp teeth. While gorillas are strong, they are not equipped to handle the kind of attack a crocodile can deliver.

Are Gorillas stronger than Lions?

Gorillas are stronger than lions in terms of pure physical strength. However, lions are natural predators with sharp claws and teeth, while gorillas are herbivores and not equipped to handle a lion’s attack.

How hard can a gorilla punch?

It’s difficult to measure the force of a gorilla’s punch accurately, but it’s estimated that a gorilla could punch with a force of up to 1300 psi (pounds per square inch). For comparison, a professional boxer’s punch is around 700 psi.

What animal can fight a gorilla?

There are several animals that could potentially fight a gorilla, including tigers, lions, crocodiles, and bears. However, as mentioned earlier, the outcome would depend on the specific circumstances and animals involved.

What 5 animals could defeat a gorilla?

As we mentioned earlier, tigers, lions, crocodiles, and bears are all animals that could potentially defeat a gorilla in a fight. Other animals that could pose a threat include elephants and hippos.

Do gorillas have predators?

Gorillas do not have natural predators, as they are one of the strongest animals in their natural habitats. However, gorillas have been known to fall victim to poachers and habitat destruction caused by humans.

Who would win in a fight, a hippo or a Gorilla?

A hippo would most likely win in a fight against a gorilla. Hippos are incredibly strong and have powerful jaws, and they are not afraid to attack when they feel threatened.

Can a gorilla survive a bullet?

Gorillas, like any animal, can be killed by a bullet. However, gorillas are incredibly strong and have thick skin, which can make it difficult for a bullet to penetrate.

Why do gorillas beat their chest?

Gorillas beat their chest as a way to communicate with other gorillas and to assert their dominance. Chest beating is also a way for male gorillas to attract female gorillas.

Can a gorilla swim?

Yes, gorillas are capable of swimming. However, they are not known for their swimming abilities and prefer to stay on land.

Conclusion on The Most Massive Gorilla Ever

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The world of gorillas is a fascinating and awe-inspiring one. The Eastern Lowland Gorilla and the Mountain Gorilla are truly the kings of the primate world, with their impressive size and strength.

From their imposing physical features to their complex social structures, these gorillas are a marvel of nature that continues to captivate and inspire us. 

While they may face threats from habitat loss and poaching, their resilience and ability to adapt gives us hope for their survival. So let us continue to marvel at these majestic creatures and do all we can to protect them for generations to come.

Thank you for reading Most Massive Gorilla Ever. I personally think these huge animals need to be protected, I was amazed when I saw the Mountain Gorillas in 2020 in Uganda.

Also have a look at our other primates article or check out Tiger Vs. Elephant Fight or Places You can See Orangutans.

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