Pop culture’s most famous gorilla – King Kong – stands a mighty 400 feet tall in his latest film appearance. Fortunately, most apes don’t grow that big.

They grow to 1.2 m-1.8 m (4-6 feet) tall on average. Lowland gorillas are slightly smaller in terms of mass – up to 180 kg (400 lbs). Mountain gorillas are heavier, growing up to 220 kg (485 lbs).

Though they are herbivores, gorillas’ fearsome appearance and formidable strength make us somewhat wary and even fearful of them. It leads to questions like: how strong are gorillas? And the topic of this article: how fast can a gorilla run? Let’s find out.

Gorilla Top Speed vs Human Top Speed – Who Wins?

Runner dressed up as a gorilla at a local marathon in London

Let’s cut to the chase, so to speak. The main reason someone would ask a question about animal speed is to determine whether they could outrun it in a tense situation.

There’s a short and long answer to this when it comes to a gorilla. Most species of this beautiful Sub-Saharan ape can reach about 32 km/h (20 mph).

How fast can a silverback gorilla run?

A silverback gorilla is an older male, so named because of the gray hairs that give his back a silver shimmer. Silverback gorillas move at up to 40 km/h  (25 mph) – that’s slightly faster than younger apes.

An extremely fit and quick human can move at about the same pace as an average gorilla running speed, give or take a few steps. So, in most cases, it may come down to the distance over which you’re trying to move.

Gorillas can move quickly even if they seldom do so over long distances. That said, the terrain on which you’re likely to encounter a gorilla isn’t very friendly to humans. So, more than likely, the gorilla will move over rough terrain faster and longer than the average human.

Are Gorillas Aggressive?

Silverback gorilla showing an aggressive behaviour towards another younger male

Make no mistake; you don’t want to be around an angry gorilla. That rule goes for any animal in the wild, as many rangers and wildlife experts will stress. Thankfully, in most situations, gorillas aren’t genuinely aggressive.

Most hostile behavior in gorillas occurs during territorial disputes between alpha males. That said, they are capable of turning violent when under threat. So, take care and follow instructions carefully should you encounter a gorilla.

The sheer size and strength of gorillas can be a serious threat, and an attack can cause serious or even fatal injury. The best advice is to admire gorillas from a safe distance, just to be sure.

How Strong is a Gorilla Compared to a Man?

So, if you can’t outrun a gorilla on its own ground, can you fight it? No. Probably not.

A gorilla is a mighty and powerful beast. Some estimate a full-grown silverback can be as much as 5-9 times stronger than an average human.

Even in situations where a gorilla shows affection (by grooming or hugging), it can be very uncomfortable for a human. In the gorilla vs human matchup, a human will always come second.

When gorillas fight, it’s usually by biting or beating with arms and hands. In many cases, it doesn’t have to get that far. Gorillas can show off dominance with elaborate displays of power and threatening actions. Think of our friend King Kong beating his chest as the planes fly by.

How hard can a gorilla strike?

Large silverback mountain gorilla with crossed arms, sitting in a bamboo forest in Rwanda

Gorillas have incredible muscle mass. But there seem to be no accurate or reliable records of tests for silverback gorilla strength. So how strong are gorillas, exactly, you may wonder?

We do know that a single, full-powered strike from a full-grown silverback can break a human skull or any other bone in the human body. Once in full attack mode, a silverback gorilla is also unlikely to just strike once.

Another factor to consider is that, like humans, apes have developed the ability to use tools. So, it is not unheard of for a gorilla to use a weapon like a tree branch when facing enemies. Many a big cat has suffered the wrath of a gorilla with a stick in hand.

Gorilla Speed vs Other Primates

Gorillas aren’t the fastest primates around. That title goes to patas monkeys, who can move at up to 55 km/h (34 mph). Larger apes like gorillas and chimps aren’t really built for speed, though, so that’s understandable.

The fastest ape on record is the gibbon, yet they don’t run as such. They tend to swing from branch to branch and tree to tree. This movement method has its advantages, and also at 55 km/h (34 mph), it’s pretty impressive.

Gorilla Speed vs Other Animals

Gorilla speed compared to other African animals

So, now we know how fast a gorilla can run. What about some of Africa’s other animal athletes? Here are several other articles you may want to read, about how fast certain animals can run.

So, Don’t Pick a Fight With a Gorilla

A gorilla moves quickly over short distances. Combined with its incredible gorilla strength, it makes for a potentially fearsome and dangerous enemy. Thankfully, these African primates are gentle and mostly peace-loving.

They are happy to maintain their family units in the mountains and lowlands of Africa, which makes threats to their continued existence all the more heartbreaking. Conservation work continues in much of Africa.

Why not consider a safari trip to Uganda or the DRC to see these gorgeous, gentle animals in person? It’s an experience that has changed many visitors’ lives and their love of gorillas for the better.