Official Website of the Dewar Wildlife Trust, Inc.
Morganton, GA USA

We may not have Mountain Gorillas, but we do have Gorillas in the Mountains!

Home   Tours   News   Photos   Donations   Volunteers   Contact Us  
            Wish List   Schools & Education  


Dewar Wildlife has a strong commitment to education and conservation. If we do not educate and introduce young people to all the magnificent creatures on this planet, there will be little hope for their survival over the long term. Native American Indians had it right when they said: Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. That statement helps remind us that nature's gifts are not ours to do with as we please, but rather we should act as stewards for the next generation so they can enjoy the earth's natural wealth as well.

Our focus is on Gorillas - certainly one of nature's most magnificent creatures. They are highly endangered, and only by caring about them can we ensure their survival.

If you are interested in having your school group visit Dewar Wildlife, please contact us and we will provide your group with a unique and educational experience that will enrich their lives as well as impart valuable knowledge about these magnificent creatures.

We also encourage school groups to have an overnight outing at Dewar Wildlife. We have a fire ring which works well for a night time cook-out and students can use sleeping bags inside unoccupied buildings - even inside cages(!), or they can pitch tents or hammocks and sleep outside if the weather is good. Restroom and showers are available in a nearby building to make it a more pleasant experience.

And the next morning, we put everyone to work, helping out with the maintenance of the gorilla habitat, the support buildings and anything else that needs to be done at the facility.

Some important Facts about Gorillas:

    Where are they?

  • Gorillas live in Africa with the Western Gorilla living in West Central Africa, and the Eastern Gorilla in East Central Africa.
  • Of the various sub-species of gorillas, only the Western lowland gorilla is typically seen by zoo visitors (although there are a few Eastern Gorillas in Europe, and one Cross River gorilla in an African zoo).
  • Gorillas are highly endangered. In the wild, the numbers of gorillas are both disputed and rapidly changing. But as a general guide (and please don't use these figures without mentioning that they are somewhat speculative!), there are around 100,000+ western Lowland Gorillas, a few hundred Cross River gorillas, and several hundred each of Mountain, Bwindi gorillas with perhaps a few thousand Eastern lowland gorillas (although this number has been rapidly diminishing in the past two decades).
  • There are some 850 or so gorillas in conventional zoo settings, with possibly 2-3 times that number in private/undocumented/inappropriate captive settings. The DWT website is pleased to house Jim Davis's unofficial Gorilla Stud book which is kept up to date and maintains records on some 2,100 gorillas that are alive or have lived in Zoo settings.

    General facts about Gorillas

  • Gorillas are highly intelligent creatures - many cognition researchers peg their intelligence as close to that of a 3-4 year old child.
  • Gorillas are not naturally aggressive - in spite of the ferocious appearance that Hollywood attributes to gorillas, they are in fact surprisingly gentle creatures given their strength and aggression is the exception, not the rule. When gorillas do fight (over a female, or to protect their troop) as much attention is paid to bluffing as actually coming to blows.
  • Gorillas are vegetarians - in the wild, their diet is almost exclusively based on fruits and vegetables
  • There are different species and sub-species of gorillas and while debate continues as to whether the Bwindi population constitutes a separate sub-species, as of 2012, the consensus appears to be as follows:
    Species   Sub-Species
    Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)   Western Lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
      Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli)
    Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei)   Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)
      Eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri)
      Bwindi gorilla (Gorilla beringei bwindi)
  • Adult male gorillas are referred to as Silverbacks due to the color of the fur on their backs.
  • Gorillas are the largest living primate and are typically around 5' 6" (1.67m) when upright, and about 4' 6" (1.37m) in their normal position on all fours and weigh around 325-475 lbs. (147-215kg). Females are smaller, weighing around 150-250 lbs. (68-113kg).
  • Gorillas have large arm spans - some have been measured at over 9' (2.75m).
  • Gorillas usually walk on their knuckles (Knuckle Walking) although they do sometimes walk or run bipedally (see the video section under Photos to see the video of one of Oliver's first days out where he runs bipedally).
  • The oldest known gorilla as of November2013 (and also the first gorilla born in captivity) is 56 years old. Colo will be 57 on December 22, 2013 - and that would be a new record for a gorilla. As with humans, female gorillas tend to outlive their male counterparts. In the wild, the usual life-expectancy is around 30-35 years, with gorillas in zoos typically living some 5-10 years more than that (probably due to good medical care and regular diet).
  • Gorillas live in groups, usually headed by a single adult male, with several females and juveniles. As younger males mature, they will leave the group and either go off to find females to form their own group or form a bachelor group with other males.
  • At night, gorillas build nests to sleep in, but rarely ever use them for more than one night.
  • Not all gorillas look the same! If you look at the nose, you will see that there is a lot of variation and in fact that is the best way to distinguish gorillas.
  • Gorillas remember people. There have been several cases of gorillas finally seeing keepers after an absence of a decade or more that have shown unmistakable signs of recognition.
  • Gorillas exhibit many human behaviors and emotions - people are often surprised to find that they have a sense of humor and are often more curious about us than we are of them.
  • Unlike Chimpanzees (which uninformed people often confuse with gorillas), gorillas rarely vocalize. If upset, they may cough as a warning or threat or if very upset, bark loudly. When happy, Gorillas can emit a wonderful low, throaty rumble that tells you they are enjoying some food or special company.

Dewar Wildlife is certified by

as a related facility

The DWT is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit corporation

Mission Statement


2011, Dewar Wildlife Trust, Inc. All Rights Reserved - no material can be copied or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the DWT