Taxidermy mount of an adult male Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), shot by Percy Powell-Cotton on 8 May 1927 near a village named Keba in the Cuvette-Ouest Department of the Republic of the Congo.

This Gorilla is a silverback. Male Gorillas have black or grey-brown hair all over when they are young, but develop a ‘saddle’ of silver hair on their backs as they age. Gorilla groups, known as troops or bands, are usually made up of one silverback male, several females, and their young. Silverbacks are the main decision-makers and protectors of their troop. The death of a silverback can leave a troop in chaos, and the remaining members might split up and join other groups.

Two young Gorillas, a male and a female, were killed at the same time as this silverback. An adult female – presumed by Percy Powell-Cotton to be the mother of one of the young animals – escaped, possibly along with several others. The silverback is displayed as part of a ‘family group’ in the Museum’s largescale primate diorama. This display group includes the young male that was shot at the same time, and was probably the silverback’s son.

Western Lowland Gorillas are critically endangered. The biggest threats they face include diseases such as Ebola, which can be transmitted from humans, and industries such as mining and logging which are destroying their forest habitat.