Mother gorillas are not different from human mothers, they play all roles played by human mothers since childbirth. These huge roles start way back from conceiving to producing and raising their babies (offspring). Realities about mother gorillas are quite many, some of them include raising the offsprings through feeding, supporting them in moving, and teaching daily activities. However much they both play the same roles but have got a differing mode of grooming the offsprings.
Below are some of the realities about mother gorillas that a visitor should know and put focus in case they get close to one of the mother gorillas in the jungle. This may be at the moment of the one magical hour spent with the gorillas on a gorilla trek safari.
Reality 1, Mother gorillas are one of the best mothers.
Generally, mothers and infants have a strong bond, this is the same case between mother gorillas and her offsprings. Apart from the cheetahs, gorilla mothers are among the best animal mothers. They provide a full package of care and support during the gorilla infant stage. They are also celebrated on mother day, and so they are heroes. They nurse the infants, provide warmth through holding them on their warm chests, and comforting them. This is supported by the big arms and the fingers. Mother gorillas always protect the young ones against danger in any environment. The care involves nursing, carrying them to provide warmth and comfort, and protecting them from any harm in the surrounding environment. Due to much time and care needed by the infants, gorilla moms produce once in four years. Of all the infants produced it’s documented that only 75% make it throughout the stage.
Reality 2, Pregnancy session of the female gorillas.
The gestation period for gorillas is almost the same as for humans however, it’s less (8.5 months). When the gorilla mom is pregnant, it’s very difficult to tell since always the stomach is very big with large amounts of food (40 pounds of vegetation every day). Fortunately, some gorillas show temporary signs of the swollen knuckles. Births are usually at night. This may sound crazy but it actually exists also during its pregnancy, they face morning sickness and usually eat for the two. The gorilla mom’s appetite also changes.
Reality 3, Non-mother handling of mountain gorilla infants is less frequent/Babysitting by non-mothers is rare.
Here there is a big difference unlike in humans and other primates where any member of the family or even individuals out of the family may babysit. It’s less practiced among the gorillas because the bond between the adults and infants is weak. The big percentage of the time, gorilla moms babysit though also the male gorillas, related or siblings may carry for a short time. The few babysitting males tend to have more offsprings than males who don’t.
Reality 4, Mother gorillas protect the offsprings against danger
Usually, in a gorilla group, there is a silverback that protects the entire group including offsprings who are most likely to be stolen by other male gorillas from the other groups or families. Unfortunately, if the head of the group (silverback) dies, the mother gorillas seek refuge in another group for protection. On rare occasions, the mother gorilla may decide to move far distances in order to protect the infant alone. In case the mother transfers into another group, the baby is most likely to be killed by the dominant gorilla. This was discovered by a primatologist. More of such findings can be discovered by the late Dian Fossey in Rwanda.
Difference between a mother gorilla and human motherhood.
Mother gorilla doesn’t put their infants down for the first six months, provides constant warmth and safety while for the human motherhood, the infant is put down immediately after delivering and for resting.
Gorilla moms share the same nest with the infants however if the mother gorilla delivers another after 4 years, the young gorilla must learn to sleep on their own while human mothers decide on the period to sleep with the infants.
Gorilla moms nurse (take care) their infants for more than three years which is not the case in human mothers. The gorilla infants start feeding on solid food from a period of 5 months and feed on it regularly after reaching 8 months.