Gorillas Lose Weight on Greens Diet

Gorillas living in captivity are prone to heart disease, specifically Western lowland gorillas. The males are dying from heart problems prematurely. In 1994 a study of 74 captive gorilla deaths found that 41 percent were caused by heart disease. The number one killer of gorillas in captivity is heart disease, as it is for Americans. After a 21 year old gorilla died in Cleveland, researchers there began to investigate the causes. Today they are feeding gorillas a diet more like they would eat in the wild.

Two male gorillas in Cleveland have lost about 65 pounds on a new diet including endive, romaine lettuce, green beas, alfala hay, dandelion greens, flax seeds and multivitamins. They eat about 10 pounds of this green leafy salad every day.

On their old sugary, starchy diet they were overweight and less mobile. They were also vomiting their own food, and re-consuming it and plucking their own hair, and eating that too. The new low-sugar diet eliminated those unusual behaviors. The Cleveland gorillas will be monitored carefully and if they remain healthy, the Gorilla Species Survival Plan may recommend all gorillas in North America go on a high fiber, foraging diet like the one used in Cleveland. (Imagine also if more humans in North America would adopt this diet and what might happen to the heart disease rate.)

A related study at the Denver Zoo is using ultrasound to gather accurate data about their gorillas’ heart health. It is just part of a project across North America involving 470 gorillas, orangutans, and chimps.

Image Credit: Adrian Pingstone

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jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago


Bon L.
Bon L6 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Caralien S.
Caralien S6 years ago

The linkEd article had the gorillas consuming a starch based diet, possibly Gorilla Chow?

Caralien S.
Caralien S6 years ago

Maria--mad cow disease comes from eating the brain tisse of your own species, and the gorillas were not given gorilla brains to eat.

I'm glad they're now giving the gorillas proper food again!

Maria Papastamatiou

Animals shoud eat what nature meant them to. Remember the mad cows' desease?

Vera Y.
Vera Yuno6 years ago

i agree with Marion Prison ""Today they are feeding gorillas a diet more like they would eat in the wild."

what the f..uck were they eating before???

Trish K.
Trish K6 years ago

This is a story about ourselves. Look in the mirror and see who is eating sugary and starchy food compared to all the salad you can eat. duh

Ioana Boca
Ioana B6 years ago


Marion Prison
Marion Prison6 years ago

Quoted from article:

"Today they are feeding gorillas a diet more like they would eat in the wild."

All I can say is "Duh!"

michael m.
Mike m6 years ago

Thank you for that information, Cynthia. Yes, it does sound obvious, but apparently not necessarily so. Good that they have som good results so far.