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How Strong are Gorillas?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: July 29, 2019
How Strong are Gorillas?

Gorillas are the largest primates in existence and have very similar DNA to that of human beings. It is understandable, then, why they capture our imagination like they do. Gorillas are really are fascinating and incredibly strong animals. Much like humans, gorillas have two arms and legs with five fingers and toes on each. Their face which bears a strong resemblance to ours.

These animals are very intelligent and really strong. As proof of this strength, did you know a gorilla is able to fully tear down a banana tree? Gorillas do this so that they can subsequently get to the fruit.

Gorilla strength is not only impressive, but also somewhat scary! Gorillas are easily among the 10 strongest animals in the world, relative to their size and weight. If you want to know more about just how strong gorillas are, keep reading here with us at AnimalWised.

You may also be interested in: Types of Gorillas

How strong is a gorilla?

Gorilla strength to human strength, when compared, adult gorillas are four to nine times stronger than the average man. According to the Guiness Book of Records, a silverback gorilla can lift up to 815 kilograms (1800 pounds) of dead weight. Meanwhile, a well trained human could lift a maximum of 410 kilograms (900 pounds) - half as much that the gorilla can manage. This is, of course, a rough calculation.

Looking at this comparison when of gorilla strength compared to humans, an experiment conducted in 1924 showed that an adult gorilla can throw with almost 450 kilograms (990 pounds) of force, whilst an average human can only manage a maximum of 100 kilograms (220 pounds) - almost five times less than a gorilla.

Silverback gorilla strength is incredible, especially if specific actions are taken into account. Gorillas can, for example, break bamboo canes, which can be seen as exhibiting a strength 20 times greater than that of the average human. However, this figure should factor in the fact that; they first bite into the bamboo, weakening it, and only measures the specific force used in breaking it.

While comparing gorillas to human beings can be useful as a point of reference, we must always take into account that a gorilla’s body shape, balance, mobility and abilities are different. Therefore, gorillas are better formed to perform certain movements with more strength than humans, but considering their strength in human terms doesn't make much sense. For instance, even if their arms have the ability to lift enormous weights, they don't have the balance to do so.

If we look at one of the most common questions asked: Professional fighter or Gorilla? well, after this man vs gorilla strength analysis, we can guarantee you, a gorilla will win.

How Strong are Gorillas? - How strong is a gorilla?

Are gorillas aggressive?

Despite being very strong animals, gorillas don't use their strength to attack other animals or human beings just for fun. Gorillas will only use their strength as self-defense or when they feel threatened, much like other animals. You must remember that gorillas are vegetarian animals, so they don't use their strength to hunt.

Gorillas live in groups, usually with one male (a silverback, older than 12), multiple females, and their children. However, there are gorilla troops with more than one male. This can cause conflicts within the troop, and there might be aggression between: males, females, and occasionally between the sexes. This kind of in-group aggression, though, never brings out a gorilla's full force[1].

How Strong are Gorillas? - Are gorillas aggressive?

Silverback gorilla strength facts

  • Even though male gorillas that weigh about 250 kilograms (550 pounds) are considered obese, they're still capable of climbing trees and swinging from branch to branch, showcasing the incredible strength in their arms.
  • The grip of a silverback gorilla strength is so powerful that it could easily crush a crocodile.
  • Gorillas don't only use their legs to get around, but also rely on the strength of their arms to walk.

Want to know more about gorillas? Check out our following article; Dietary Habits of The Gorilla.

How Strong are Gorillas? - Silverback gorilla strength facts

If you want to read similar articles to How Strong are Gorillas?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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7 comments
Peter
May I ask you on one fact? How strong is Gorilla when is captured in ZOO? Is his strength decreasing with time spend into jail?
What about Gorillas which are born in ZOO - Do they have same strength as Gorillas in wild?? Thank you for your answers and thoughts.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Peter,

It will depend on various factors. If it is a good zoo with appropriate environmental enrichment, food, care, etc., then it shouldn't make much difference. However, many animals in captivity can suffer various psychological issues. Many live in zoos or sanctuaries because of threats in the wild which can lead to trauma. A lack of free range can also be psychologically damaging. This can lead to lethargy and a lack of exercise, theoretically decreasing their strength. In contrast, a gorilla in the wild may have a lack of access to food due to habitat destruction which could weaken them. As we say, it would depend on the individual. Thanks for the question!
Ben From
I wonder how it can be said, that gorilla would be easily in top ten strongest animals, when in reality there is very little proof, that gorilla would be stronger than other animals weighing same. When thinking about lions and tigers, which actually show strength many times, in what way gorilla would be stronger? Or bear, they are also real powerhouses, I donĀ“t think that thumb makes a gorilla something special what comes to strength. This kind of speculative articles are easy sources for misinformation. And weight... 250 kg is not normal weight for a gorilla. It is 140-170 kg, when talking about silverbacks. Some exceptional individuals can in rare cases be 200 kg or more.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Ben,

This article does not discus 'which animals would win in a fight'. We simply look at the studies done on gorilla strength and reveal the findings. It makes them one of the strongest animals in the world, but fortunately bears and gorillas do not have opportunity to fight each other very often.

In terms of their thumbs, it means they can use objects and have more manoeuvrability than other animals. The only comparison we make is between humans an gorillas which have similar morphology, but humans lack their strength.
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Jorgen Olsen
Great article, but the statement that humans can only lift 410 kg is false. Eddie Hall has the world record deadlift of 500kg.
brian
Gorillas are easily among the top 10 Animals in strength?...So there is the Elephant,Rhino, Hippo,Polar bear, Clydsdale, Buffalo, Giraffe, Crocodile, Killer whale, whale shark, Sea elephant, Walrus and I'm sure quite a few more animals that have at least twice the muscle content of the largest Gorilla. Its strange how there is so much hyperbole around gorilla strength.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Brian,

Many people are simply interested in gorillas, perhaps because we humans are self-involved and gorillas share many of our characteristics. Also, the strength of a gorilla is interesting to compare due to the ratio of muscle mass. I'm sure many are hyperbolic about gorillas and their strength, but there is no doubt they are a fascinating animal.
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Kiersty Miller
Question... Is a Gorilla capable of crushing Polycarbonate? This debate has gone on too long between my flatmate and I lol. Thank you for your time :)
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Kiersty,

Polycarbonate is a material used to break many different objects. It can be made to bespoke thicknesses and sizes. It is used to make everything from water bottles to CDs. A Gorilla could snap a CD, but if there was something big and thick enough made from polycarbonate, it might be a different story. However, polycarbonate does not crush very easily, it would shatter before it is crushed. Hope this helps!
Ravi
Tear down banana trees? Banana trees are one of the weakest trees ever. And they are even weaker when they are with fruit. You can lean against one and the whole thing will go down. Gorillas may be strong but tearing down banana trees is not a feat of strength.
Lee
Indeed Muay Thai fighters will often kick a banana tree to pieces with their shins as part of their training.
Linda
Do you have any pictures of Gorillas lifting trees? How high is the IQ of an astute Gorilla? Thank you!
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Linda,

We don't have any pictures of gorillas lifting trees, we're afraid you'd have to search an appropriate animal photo database. As far as IQs for gorilla's go, it's difficult. The famous and recently departed gorilla Koko was given different tests to understand the level of her intelligence. Some sources claim she had an IQ in the range of 85 to 95, but there are many aspects to consider. It is difficult to apply these human parameters onto an ape or primate. There have also been questions over objectivity when it comes to gorilla research on animals such as Koko.

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