Why They Matter
Our Closest Cousins
Gorillas share 98.3% of their DNA with humans, making them our closest cousins after chimpanzees and bonobos. These charismatic, intelligent animals often surprise us with behaviors and emotions so similar to our human experience.
Gorillas Help Maintain Forests
Gorillas play a key role in maintaining the biodiversity of their forest homes by spreading the seeds of the trees they eat and by opening up gaps in the trees as they move around, letting in light and helping sun-loving plants grow.
Protecting Gorilla Habitat Helps Humans
In Central Africa, humans depend on the same environment as gorillas for their food, water, medicine and other forest products. Protecting forests that house gorillas also conserves the forests for the humans that live there. The Congo Basin is home to the second largest tropical rainforest on Earth, which serves as the green heart of Africa. Moisture generated by this forest falls as rain in the United States, meaning that the impact of the loss of this forest will be felt globally.