Gorilla Sounds

Gorillas live in the dense rain forest, where group members often can't see each other, that's why sounds play such an important role in communication. Silverback males are uttering most of the sounds, most well known is the chest drumming, which can be heard over a long distance. Most sound expressions are rather low in volume: a grunt, that can be very versatile and probably has many differnt meanings.

Silverback Ziz feeding on bamboo
He pulls bamboo shoots from the ground, peels them and chews them.

Der Silberrückenmann Ziz beim Bambusfressen

Humming and singing
With such sounds, Gorillas show comfort and pleasure, for example when they find especially favoured food.

Brummen und Singen

This soft grunt is the most usual vocalisation. By belching, the gorillas keep contact to each other and communicate different


A gorilla baby cries because it wants to drink milk.


When a silverback male is alarmed, he emits a characteristic sound.


Play with chuckling
Young gorillas are wrestling.

Balgspiel mit Lachen

Playing males
Even adult males sometimes engage in playful wrestling, in this case it is Ziz and Pablo.

Spielende Gorillamänner

Chestbeating with hooting
Display of a silverback male.

Brusttrommeln mit Rufen

This aggressive vocalisation is emitted to warn conspecifics or to rebuke them.


A conflict in the group
Two females have a dispute, other group members also take part in the conflict and the leading male tries to resolve it.

Ein Konflikt in der Gruppe

All sound recordings were taken from the CD Berggorilla-Laute (© Jörg Hess)

Education Efforts Prevent a "Blackback" Cross River Gorilla from Being Killed

June 2018

In November 2017, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) received a report of a lone male Cross River gorilla sighted near two Nigerian villages (Ofambe...[details]

Variation in Gorilla Behaviour - and Culture?

January 2018

Culture is a large part of what makes us human. However, we are not the only species that exhibits culture. Culture in non-human animals, defined as...[details]

Silverback Sagas: Dominance Struggles Among Male Gorillas

January 2018

When powerful silverbacks jostle for dominance within a group, they can sustain very serious injuries with their long canine teeth. Over the last 30...[details]

First Twins Born to Habituated Western Lowland Gorillas

January 2017

At the end of January 2016 the Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas complex in the Central African Republic recorded the first ever western lowland gorilla...[details]

Feeding Competition in Female Bwindi Mountain Gorillas

January 2016

All animals - including humans - must eat to survive. The energy derived from food is necessary to sustain basic metabolic and muscle functions,...[details]

Gorilla Group Formation and Dynamics

December 2014

Gorillas spend the major part of their life in small social groups led by a mature silverback male. Only young blackback males and mature silverback...[details]

Two Silverbacks Die in Rwanda

December 2014

The 21-year-old silverback male Umushikirano (Rano), leader of Titus group in Volcanoes National Park, was found dead on July 28, 2014 by trackers....[details]

Geriatric Gorillas

January 2014

Colo (© Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

December 22, 1956, was a historic day for the zoological world as we welcomed the first successful zoo gorilla birth - a female, eventually...[details]

Response to Oil Prospecting in Gabon

December 2010

A hole for the dynamite is prepared. (© Luisa Rabanal)

As the world's oil reserves continue to decline, interest from major petroleum companies in the largely unexploited reserves of African oil...[details]

Changing Ecological Conditions

December 2010

Cyril Grüter on top of a Virunga Volcano (© Cyril Grüter)

The mountain gorillas of the Virunga Volcano Massif have been the subject of intense research and conservation efforts by the Karisoke Research...[details]

Western Gorilla Life History

December 2009

Side profiles of gorillas of different life-history classes. The two photos in each row present a typical example of the life-history classes used in this study (from top: infang, juvenile, subadult, blackback, young silverback and adult female/adult silverback (© Thomas Breuer)

Gorillas are known among the great apes for their fast life history patterns. In zoos it is common for female gorillas to give birth before reaching...[details]

Western Gorilla Tourism

June 2009

Silverback activity budget by human group type (© Chloe Hodgkinson)

Following the widely perceived success of mountain gorilla tourism, there has been increasing interest in developing tourism based on the observation...[details]

First Observation of the Birth of a Western Gorilla in the Wild

June 2008

Mowane riding on Malui’s back (© Kate Bracewell)

On the 4th December 2007, staff of the Dzanga-Sangha's Primate Habituation Programme (PHP) witnessed the birth of a new gorilla infant into the...[details]

Conservation of Gorillas in Mbeli Bai

December 2007

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file[details]

News from Kahuzi-Biega 2005

December 2005

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file.[details]

Another Twin Birth in Kahuzi-Biega

June 2005

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file.[details]

Infanticides in Kahuzi-Biega

December 2004

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file.[details]

Human Impact on Gorilla Behaviour

June 2010

Leanne Van der Weyde viewing the gorillas (© Michelle Klailova)

Western lowland gorilla tourism exists on a considerably smaller scale than that of the high profile mountain gorillas. Yet the successful...[details]

The Mbeli Bai Gorillas

December 1999

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file[details]


July 2009

The silverback Papa Gentil in Group Gentil (Sept. 2007) (© Chieko Ando)

Since 1999, a long-term survey of gorillas and chimpanzees has been conducted by Kyoto University in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, Gabon. The...[details]

Cave Dwelling Gorillas

December 2006

Available only within the Gorilla Journal PDF file[details]

Gorilla Nest Types in Kahuzi-Biega

January 2017

All species of great apes construct night nests; sometimes in trees and sometimes on the ground. This article is based on daily long-term...[details]