begin to breed at about nine years of age. The female menstruates about every 28
days and may mate in any season. Following a gestation (pregnancy) period
of 8.5 to 9 months, a female gives birth to a single infant (occasionally to
twins). A female normally produces three to six offspring in her lifetime,
becoming pregnant and giving birth on the average every four years.
During the first three to four years of life, an infant is dependent on its mother, suckling her milk, sheltering under her arms for protection from cold rains, and sleeping in her nest at night. Young adults normally leave their families when they reach breeding age and thereby avoid breeding with kin. Generally males travel alone until they are able to attract females from other groups and begin their own families, while females transfer to already existing groups or to lone males.
Experts estimate that the gorilla life span is 35 to 45 years. Prior to old age, most gorilla deaths take place in the first two years of life, during which time 25 percent of infants die due to illness.
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