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Bear vs gorilla – who will win such an incredible battle of the brutes?

Think about the most ferocious land mammals and our attentions usually turn towards those that exist exclusively on all-fours – lions, tigers, rhinos and even hippos.

The obvious candidates often get overlooked. Perhaps due to their shared split-personalities or possibly because there are not very many of them left in the world.

Fooling us all into a false sense of security with their laidback behaviour and body language, there are two animals that will beat anything in a fight – bears and gorillas.

With bear vs gorilla, we have two lords of the land. These animals can go from a totally chilled state to fully charged aggression in a matter of seconds.

But which would win in a fight? Bear or gorilla? Let’s find out.

Bear vs Gorilla – Iconic Similarities

Although they do not live in the same place on Earth, there are endless similarities between these two giants.

Mobility

Grizzly bear running in Knight Inlet, British Columbia

Both able and accustomed to travel on four legs or two, these animals may first appear to be massive balls of fur and fat. Don’t be fooled. Once slammed into gear, bears and gorillas can reach high velocities and hurtle towards any target.

The gorilla can reach impressive speeds of around 40 km/h (20 mph) with a greater rate of acceleration, complemented by a rapid reaction time.

However, this pales in comparison to its carnivorous counterpart. Once its husky frame is hefted forward and running at full throttle, the bear can easily outrun any gorilla on Earth, reaching speeds of up to 56 km/h (35 mph).

Aggression and ferocity

To try and argue with any certainty about which of these colossal creatures has greater aggression and ferocity is purely subjective.

While it has been claimed by some that the most gargantuan grizzly bear clearly overpowers the most sizeable silverback gorilla, both are clearly capable of causing huge destruction.

Social status

Mountain gorilla screaming, a sound made by gorillas when they are angry

In their opposing environments, both the bear and the gorilla are unrivalled and untouchable in their positions at the top of the (metaphorical) tree.

It would take a species with suicidal tendencies to challenge the superior power and authority of the bear or the gorilla in their native, natural setting.

This sense of safety and security may contribute to the calm and carefree manner in which the two beasts seem to wile away their days.

Bear vs Gorilla – Distinct Differences

Having evolved in dramatically different environments, there is a gulf between the physical and mental tendencies of these two titanic tusslers.

Size and strength

Brown bear stands on its hind legs, Lake Clark National Park

Weighing in at a whopping 360 kg (800 lb), and standing at more than 2 metres in height, the grizzly bear is beyond reason or reproach.

If you were to accidentally come across a grizzly in the wild you won’t forget it.

In contrast, a significantly sized silverback would do well to achieve anywhere near half the bulk of these huge bears, tipping the scales at a moderate 195 kg (430 lb). Measuring a moderate 1.7 metres the gorilla gives away a lot in height to its opponent.

However, strength doesn’t always equate with size. Silverback gorillas can lift up to four times their own bodyweight!

Weapons and tools

Possessing paws that are 20 inches in diameter, and slashing scythe-like claws, the grizzly bear’s swinging limbs would make Freddie Krueger’s glove look like a back-scratcher.

The monstrous measurements of the bear’s palms belittle the otherwise humongous hands of the gorilla.

So, the gorilla can’t compete with the bear’s boulder-like wrecking balls. However, gorillas have arms about 30 cm longer than our own. Plus they have opposable thumbs, so the gorilla can use its superior reach and windmilling momentum to pack quite a punch.

Factor in a mouthful of razored teeth and the bear has an arsenal of assault methods that will keep any opponent at arm’s length. However, did you know that silverback gorillas have a bite twice as strong as a lion?

Bear vs Gorilla – Fight Prediction

Grizzly bear roaring as a warning

In a ‘head-to-head, mano-a-mano’ melee between the biggest version of each species – the grizzly bear vs the silverback gorilla.

This is how we predict the fight would unfold…

Oh wait, we need some ring music. The silverback gorilla isn’t coming into the arena to Gorilla by Bruno Mars. No, he’s more dangerous than that and is striding out to Thrill My Gorilla by Alice Cooper.

The grizzly bear isn’t too worried and is taunting his rival, by marching out to Guns N’ Roses Welcome to the Jungle.

So the bear is far from home but who will come out on top in this battle of the giants?

Bear vs gorilla round one

Being the faster starter, the gorilla is more proactive in the early stages, circling its larger, rangier opponent. The gorilla is feeling out the bear and trying to be the most agile.

Slightly concerned by the dancing distraction in front of it, the bear throws back its huge head and lets out a roar of warning, to advise the gorilla against any advance.

This show of aggression is enthusiastically countered by the gorilla slapping on his chiselled chest – followed by a booming warcry to bait the bear and bring it forward.

Obliging without hesitation, the bear stands up onto its hind legs, leaving the silhouette of the silverback, shaking with anticipation in its shadow.

Gorilla vs bear round two

Large silverback mountain gorilla in the rainforest, Rwanda

Having looked into the whites of each other’s eyes, the two confident combatants think they have seen something which can be used to their advantage.

Already in the perfectly positioned posture of a sumo wrestler at the beginning of a bout, the gorilla pushes off with its knuckles and toes and flies towards his giant northern adversary.

Suddenly, forced into a state of ‘fight or flight’, the bear’s ‘never say die’ DNA forces it to an innate intention to destroy. A frenzy of flying paws and claws take chunks out of the gorilla, but none of these hits are fatal.

The gorilla responds with sudden but savage attacks on his larger but more laboured bear opponent. Short sorties reap some reward for the gorilla but the bear’s flailing arms are leaving the gorilla severely scratched and sliced.

Round three of bear vs gorilla

The adrenaline-fueled fight from the first two rounds has drained from the gorilla. It has expended valuable stores of energy trying to take down the bear’s wild-eyed face of fear and fury.

Having endured the gorilla’s brave and brutal best, the bear is bruised but not beaten and can see that the gorilla is out of ideas.

The bear slowly shuffles forward to snare its exhausted enemy in a vice-like hug. This is the famous bear hug and it can finish almost any opponent. But not the gorilla. Why?

Well, it seems that the bear and gorilla have stopped fighting and are actually embracing instead.

The Future of Bear vs Gorilla

Silverback mountain gorilla in the mist

You didn’t think we were really going to predict the winner of a fight between a bear and a gorilla?

Rather than fight each other, these two giants have something more important in common. They’re lovers not haters and after three bruising rounds they have decided to help each other.

Mountain gorillas and grizzly bears are species slowly disappearing from our Earth.

Environmental change and habitat loss are forcing grizzly bears into built-up areas, where they are poached and hunted.

Mountain gorillas only survive in two alpine rainforests in the heart of Africa. There are only around 1000 of them left in the wild.

So the future of bear vs gorilla isn’t who will win in a fight. It is who will survive as a species. Let’s hope that both these animals get the space and support they need to truly thrive.

More Interesting Battles of the Giants

If you enjoyed this hypothetical battle, you may also want to explore the strengths of other beautiful mammals.

Who would win the fight…