How Do Gorillas Give Birth?

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Introduction

  • Female gorillas reach sexual maturity at approximately 10 years of age. It can have a baby as often as every four to five years. Like humans, female gorillas ovulate, every 28 days on average. The average female gorilla in the wild will give birth to two to six babies in her lifetime. Females eventually reach menopause, but the exact age that this happens is unknown.

    The birthing process for gorillas is similar to that for humans. Gorillas give birth after being pregnant for 8 1/2 to 9 months. The labor process can go quickly drag out. Complications can happen during labor.

Birth at Night

  • Gorillas tend to give birth at night. The most likely reason is that the gorilla group settles down for the night and things are quiet.

Giving Birth

  • The female gorilla may change positions during birth, from lying down to squatting throughout the labor process. When the baby starts coming, the mother will sit in a squatting position so that she can catch the baby.

    Gorillas give birth to one baby. On a rare occasion, they give birth to twins.

    A veterinarian in Uganda observed a gorilla giving birth in the wild. A male gorilla was seen giving the female gorilla support by sitting behind her and holding her.

The Placenta

  • When a baby gorilla is born, the mother bites through the umbilical cord to separate the placenta and brings the baby to her chest to hold and nurse. The mother also eats the placenta to obtain valuable nutrients.

    Female gorillas stop ovulating for three years after childbirth.

Mother and Baby

  • The mother and baby gorilla form a close bond and are virtually inseparable. When the baby learns to crawl at 2 months old, it will play under its mother's close supervision. Babies in the group play together. The father takes an active role in playing with the baby.

  • Photo Credit Credit: zpics - Copyright: zpics - License Info: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/deed.en
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