The Internet births many questions, from the serious to the seriously absurd. Yet it didn’t let us down when they pitted two of nature’s most iconic creatures against one another: the silverback gorilla and the male African lion.
Both beasts of fearsome strength, we decided to try our hand at weighing the odds of who would win in an ultimate gorilla vs lion showdown. Of course, all of this is merely speculation. We would never want to pit these creatures against one another in real life.
But curiosity is a temptress and we can’t help but throw our two cents in this great internet debate. So without further adieu, here is our breakdown of what we think would unfold, along with surprising facts you may not have known about both animals.
The Great Gorilla vs Lion Debate
Unlike some animal rivals, this tough pairing doesn’t have an obvious outcome. Both the lion and the gorilla have their share of strengths, each of which is unique. Before we launch into a potential outcome, let’s explore what each contender brings to the table.
Below is a factual breakdown of each animal’s abilities.
What the Silverback Gorilla Brings to the Ring
Silverback gorillas are massive contenders. Large as a full grown man with a passion for weightlifting, these beasts range between 5-and-a-half to 6 feet tall and can weigh up to a whopping 500 pounds.
They earn their title as the head and guardian of gorilla troops, which can consist of anywhere between 5 to 30 gorillas. Their elongated heads consist of a crest, which is designed to help support the strong jaw muscles and teeth of this beast.
Native to mountain terrain, they bear a thick coat designed to fend off the cold climate, but it can also protect from shallow strikes or bites. However, unlike the lion, silverback gorillas are vegetarians.
Their large canines are designed not for flesh, but for intimidation. While their jaw muscles are strong enough to break through bark, roots, vines, twigs, and bamboo, they still pale in comparison to the predatory teeth of its opponent: the male lion.
It’s reach is also limited. The silverback gorilla’s arms are much shorter than it’s lowland cousin’s, with a short trunk composed of a broad chest and shoulders. However, they are extremely strong.
On average, a gorilla is anywhere between 4 to 9 times the strength of a man. To give you an idea of what that looks like, they can lift up to 1,800 pounds and effectively throw with nearly 990 pounds of force.
These beasts are also highly intelligent. Koko the Gorilla who lived in captivity was capable of speaking a subset of sign language. Gorillas in the wild are also known to use tools and even weapons, such as a torn tree branch, to fend off challengers or predators.
But who are their predators? Gorillas aren’t known to have many, but there have been rare instances of them being hunted by leopards. Typically, though, these felines aim for the smaller gorillas while avoiding the silverback.
Because gorillas live in large groups and are highly communicative, they can mass in large numbers and defend themselves quite effectively.
The silverback’s greatest disadvantage in this fight is that it goes against his nature. He will be fighting alone instead of finding strength and numbers. Yet he wields great strength and cleverness that may just be enough to gain an upper hand.
What are the Lion’s Odds?
Unlike the silverback gorilla, the lion is a predator by nature. While they may not share the same level of intelligence, the lion wields a body built for hunting.
The African breed ranges between 4-and-a-half to 6-and-a-half feet long and can weigh up to 450 pounds, which is on par with the silverback gorilla. Their mane is a form of defense, its thick fur shielding its neck from predators and intimidating other males.
Their diet also consists of animals both large and small, including wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes. They’ve been known to take down prey up to 1,000 pounds in size, typically by clamping down on the beast’s neck with its massive jaws.
Unlike the gorilla, African lions won’t be found in mountainous terrains. Instead, they live in the savannah which is predominantly grassland. The color of their coat helps them blend within the grass and sneak up on prey.
They can also run up to 50 miles per hour in short sprints and leap up to 36 feet, giving them the advantage in speed and agility. Their weakness is that what they have in speed, they lack in stamina.
Thus, while the lion is extremely powerful, it will tire quickly. His attack will depend upon stealth and an accurate strike. If he uses up his stamina, the lion will give up on its prey.
Gorilla vs Lion: Our Guess of What Would Happen
Now that we’ve covered our bases on these two mighty animals’ strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to get down to the real question: who would win?
In truth, the answer is far from a simple one. The odds could go both ways. Each animal’s chances are influenced by the setting of their battle and whether or not the two are aware of one another.
Both animals are native to entirely different terrains. With the silverback gorilla native to the upper mountainous region, he will find many advantages to a fight on his home turf due to its fighting style and its strengths.
The gorilla’s strength and the ability to use makeshift weapons using the trees and rocks around him will help fend off a lion’s attack and make up for his short reach. Should a lion dare to attack a silverback head-on, he can use his powerful throwing force to land a serious and possibly fatal blow.
His intelligence also lends an upper hand, allowing him to employ cleverness and the use of tools to aid his survival.
The lion, despite its predatorial strengths, leans upon an assassin’s technique. Due to his low stamina, he depends heavily upon a stealthy approach in order to take down his foe in a single strike, followed by a brief struggle.
If he can surprise the gorilla with a pounce that leaves the animal’s throat vulnerable, once good clamp of a lion’s jaws can put him down. The lion’s fearsome claws can also rake wounds into the gorilla, even as it struggles against the lion’s jaws.
However, much would ride upon the success of that attack. Once the lion’s cover is blown, both time and the fearsome pounding of a gorilla’s fists and makeshift weapons are weighed against him.
While his own pale grass terrain may give him a stealth advantage, he still will depend heavily upon the success of that first attack. Just like his typical prey, a takedown that doesn’t happen quickly will result in the lion tiring out, thus tapping out.
The Time of Day
One advantage the lion could gain is if the setting is at night. Silverback gorillas have eyesight more or less the same as a human being, which means they lack a strong night vision.
Because gorillas rely heavily on sight, pitting them against a lion at night will put them at a strong disadvantage. No matter the terrain, the lion will be able to use the lack of light to hide and ambush its prey.
This could also buy it time by allowing the lion to stalk its prey even after a failed attempt. Meanwhile, the gorilla in its anxiety becomes worn down with every attack, especially if the lion manages to score a significant bite, scratch, or other wounds upon his enemy.
The Final Analysis
Ultimately, we believe the odds are in the gorilla’s favor. However, alone and at night the lion will have a strong advantage. If the lion can get in close enough and score an accurate bite, he could end the fight before it even begins.
However, a gorilla is a mighty foe with more stamina and fearsome strength. It’s will to fight will last much longer than a male lion’s and if it gets its hands upon a solid branch, it can put a beating on its feline combatant.
So long as the silverback manages to evade a lion’s bite and its scratches remain superficial, he can use his powerful punches and throws to score a hit that will lay the lion low. His strategy is useful, even at night, because the strength of his hits in close proximity is just as dangerous as a strike or throw of his makeshift weapons.
The lion, on the other hand, leans heavily upon the element of surprise. Without it, his odds dwindle quickly.
Venture Beyond Speculation
If the idea of contemplating the odds of an epic gorilla vs lion battle excites you, then consider embracing a true adventure. Experience the thrill of the wild firsthand as you embark upon a safari in Tanzania.
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