Whether you enjoy pictures of mighty adult apes or their tiny and adorable offspring, it is most important to recognize that gorillas are endangered. Represented by two species -- the eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei) and western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) -- and several subspecies, gorillas are fascinating creatures.
Yet according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, eastern gorillas are endangered, while western gorillas are currently listed as critically endangered. IUCN notes that 2008 research found a reduction of over 80 percent of western gorillas in the past three generations.
One subspecies of western gorillas, the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), was recently caught on tape in what has been called the best footage of the subspecies to date. With a population of less than 300 individuals, the Cross River subspecies has been called "the most endangered African ape" by WCS. Found along the mountainous Cameroon-Nigeria border, the primates face human-induced threats such as poaching and habitat loss and fragmentation.
Gorillas in captivity have been known to exceed their lifespans in the wild, but a great ape's passing can still be a sad event. Mumbah, a well-known gorilla that lived at the Columbus Zoo, passed last week at an estimated age of 47, reported Reuters. Mumbah was a "fundamental component" of the zoo's breeding and surrogacy program.
The Columbus Zoo's president and CEO, Dale Schmidt, said in a statement, Mumbah "was a gentle giant who readily accepted youngsters into his family. He was patient but effective at teaching them how to be vital members of a gorilla social group. His legacy will live on through all of the gorillas he helped to raise."
Click here to visit the African Wildlife Foundation's website and learn about how you can help to protect mountain gorillas. More information can also be found on the International Gorilla Conservation Programme's website.
Below, check out images of endangered gorillas. If you missed our last animal overload, click here for endangered tiger pictures.
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