One thought on “What Do Gorillas Eat?”

  1. I chose gorillas because gorilla imagery is commonly used as a metaphor for strength. I wanted to help people grasp the idea that they can meet their protein needs by eating plants. If a gorilla can, they can. In other words, I'm using a rhetorical technique called an a fortiori argument.

    I chose not to use chimpanzees because many people are now aware that chimpanzees sometimes hunt and eat their kill. However, it would be ridiculous to refer to chimpanzees as omnivores. Rather, they are herbivores, primarily frugivores, that are also opportunistic feeders. Similarly, dogs are not true omnivores. They are carnivores that are also opportunistic feeders. Nor would you refer to a whitetail deer as an omnivore simply because they occasionally eat fledgling birds or dead fish. True omnivores, such as a grizzly bear, have structural adaptations for a mixed diet.

    One study found that only 1.7% of chimpanzee fecal specimens showed evidence of a meal that included meat: Tutin C.E.G., Fernandez M. (1993) Composition of the diet of chimpanzees and comparisons with that of sympatric lowland gorillas in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon. Am. J. Primatol. 30:195–211. Other studies have shown that the amount of meat consumed by chimpanzees varies seasonally, which is what you'd expect for an opportunistic feeder.

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