What is a group of gorillas called? A group of gorillas is called a troop or a band. Sometimes they are called a whoop (from a comedy skit). The common collective nouns for gorillas include: troop, band, or whoop. The term “group” is also accurate.
If you want to sound like you know your stuff, troop is the most common name for a group of gorillas.
Guide to Gorilla Troops: Size
Now that we know what gorilla groups are called, lets learn more about the size of these troops and their social structure.
There are two gorilla species, divided into 4 subspecies.
Eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei)
Eastern gorillas live in troops from 2 to 35 individuals. The average troop size is 10 gorillas. They tend to have larger groups than western gorillas (see more below).
A dominant, silverback male leads these stable family groups. Typically, there is just one adult male in the group.
Only 36% of gorilla groups have more than one adult male, with 61% containing the typical ratio of one adult male with a group of females. The remaining 3% are either solo males or groups made up of only males.
The females of the group tend to remain with the dominant silverback for life.
The species lives in Central Africa and is divided into two subspecies.
- Mountain gorilla: They live in three countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are endangered with just an estimated 880 individuals in the wild.
- Eastern lowland gorilla (Grauer's gorilla): This subspecies is only found in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The current population is endangered at just 3,800 individuals in the wild.
Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)
Western gorillas live in groups from 2 to 20 individuals.
Each troop has one dominant male, a few females and their young. As younger males in the group reach maturity, they leave to form their own group. The same is true with young females who will transfer to another group before breeding.
The species lives in Western Africa and is divided into two subspecies.
- Western lowland gorilla: Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The current population is around 95,000.
- Cross river gorilla: Cameroon-Nigeria border region. The current population is endangered at just 250-300 individuals in the wild.
Interesting fact about western gorillas: they are known to use tools.
Gorilla Troop Social Structure
The silverback typically decides on movements and where the group will feed. He is also responsible for protecting the group from internal conflicts and external threats. The male silverback will defend his troop to the death.
More reading: How strong is a gorilla?
If a mother dies, the silverback often takes the young ones in and cares for them.
When a silverback dies, the group becomes unstable. If there is a capable male in the group, he may be accepted as dominant. If not, the group might bring in an outside male. In other cases, the group might split up and join other gorilla troops in the same region.
It's important to note that gorilla troops aren't territorial. The silverback defends his group instead of his territory.
Where did the term “whoop of gorillas” come from?
Reportedly, the term whoop of gorillas came from the show “Not the Nine O'Clock News”. It originated in the famous “Gerald the Gorilla” skit with Rowan Atkinson in a gorilla suit.
The incredible thing is that this expression is now appearing in scientific books and papers. From a made up expression in a skit with Mr. Bean. Really.
Here's the clip of the Gerald the Gorilla skit.
I guess this makes Rowan Atkinson a biology influencer – coining new terms and everything.
So, what do you call a group of gorillas? You can choose from either troop, band, or whoop.
More reading: How to choose a Uganda Gorilla Trek
Did you enjoy this post about gorilla family groups? Have a fact or details to share? Join me in the comments!