Gorilla Vs. Lion – Which Animal Wins out in a Fight?

Lions are rightly considered apex predators as the “king of the jungle.” This assertion is true if you work out how high they are on the food chain. All of this information suggests that it will be pretty difficult for any animal in the world to defeat a lion in a fight, right?

Wrong! Because if a gorilla ever accepts the challenge, it could possibly defeat and kill the apex predator. Thankfully for lions, we can’t find out conclusively if gorillas can defeat them as they live in vastly different habitats.

Well, even though it’s all hypothetical, we will outline all the major attributes and characteristics of both animals in this post in an attempt to resolve the lion vs gorilla debate. And determine, once and for all, who would prevail in a fight between the two of them.

The Venue

Both lions and gorillas prefer living in and around the same broad regions of the African continent. But their respective habitats are distinct and extremely apart. This indicates that the two species hardly ever interact.

Certainly, we have seen several amusing videos of monkeys annoying and messing with lions. But we have never truly witnessed gorillas against lions. That’s because gorillas are herbivores that value their privacy and would rather reside in remote woods in eastern and central Africa.

Lions, on the other hand, like to spend their entire lives in sub-Saharan Africa’s vast grasslands and savannahs. There is a small population of them that exists in the Gir forest of India. But they are just the size of one pride, and there are no gorillas in the area.

The Contenders

Before we begin this tale of the tape, let’s meet our contestants. 

Gorillas

As plant-consuming animals that are found in most of the continent’s rainforests, gorillas are an essential component of the greater African ecosystem. These mostly docile mammals are distinguished by their black or brown fur, which enables them to blend in with their surroundings.

The silverback gorillas, who are the males of the species, are the smartest of the lot. These beasts can weigh up to 400 pounds and stand up to 6 feet tall.

They will be the main contenders for this fight as they try to use their strong arms and huge weight to their advantage. Currently, there exists 4 subspecies of gorillas in the world, namely:

  • Eastern Mountain Gorillas
  • Eastern Lowland Gorillas
  • Western Lowland Gorilla
  • Western Cross River Gorilla

Lions

As big carnivorous animals that inhabit and hunt in the savannahs of Sub-Saharan Africa,  lions have cultivated a reputation for being one of the deadliest animals in the entire animal kingdom. These apex predators attack any animal that dares to step into their habitat using their sharp retractable claws and strong jaws.

There are two officially recognized lion subspecies in the wild. You can find the African lion (Panthera leo leo) in the South of the Sahara Desert. Around Gir Forest National Park in western India, there is a single, small population of Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica).

The Weapons

Size and Appearance

The male silverback gorilla and the female lion are our main competitors in this fight. Now, there isn’t much weight difference between these animals. However, there is a considerable height difference which could work out in favor of either of these dangerous animals. 

The silverback gorilla can stand up to 6 feet tall when it’s standing on its two back hind legs. They also weigh about 400 pounds. A dangerous combination for any animal looking to go against it in a fight.

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On the other hand, a female lion can weigh up to 400 pounds yet only stands 4 feet tall, which is much shorter. But, its quickness, keen hunting instincts, and speed can work to its advantage.
But let’s move on to their appearance and see which animal has the edge over the other.

Gorillas are large, hairy, brown or black fur-covered primates who swing off trees in their preferred habitat, rainforests. These beasts also have the ability to stand on their back two hind legs, not unlike us humans. Couple that with their opposable thumbs, broad chest and wide shoulders and you’ve got one fierce competitor whose strength is near unmatchable.

Want to see how vicious gorillas can get when attacking their opponents? Check out this video!

Moving on to lions, these “kings” of the jungle do not possess the ability to stand on two legs. However, don’t let this small attribute stop you from recognizing how truly dangerous these creatures are.

Absolutely made for hunting, their sharp retractable claws and strong jaws can tear the flesh off of almost all the animals in the animal kingdom. Their sandy brown coat also helps them camouflage themselves within their habitat, allowing them to bounce on animals that dare to visit their territory.

Viewing their respective size and appearance, we’d say it’s pretty challenging to pick a clear winner as of yet.

Behavior

As we already know, lions are carnivores who can hunt and eat almost every animal in their habitat. Gorillas are mainly herbivores who eat plants and the vegetation growing on trees in their forests.
It means that lions possess that killer instinct that could give them the initial edge in a fight between the two animals. They also possess the ability to stalk their prey and find the right time to attack when the enemy has let their defenses down.

Gorillas, on the other hand, are quite docile and don’t have their senses attuned to finding all the other animals living in their environment. An attribute that could be potentially harmful to them if they can’t detect the lion creeping up on them fast enough.

However, what works in their favor is their intelligence, which is far superior to lions. If they do manage to detect a lion close to them, they have the resources to devise a plan to combat them.
In fact, some researchers have even compared a gorilla’s intelligence to that of humans, making it pretty obvious how much of a gap there is between the respective intelligence of a gorilla and a lion.

Making a gorilla angry is also one of the worst things you could do, as they tend to enter into a different, far more aggressive mode if pushed far enough. Both animals prefer living in packs, lions with their pride and gorillas with their groups. A fight between a silverback gorilla and a female lion could even devolve into a group fight, with the rest of the group jumping into the fray.

Once again, both groups have their own advantages, and a winner is still unclear.

Speed and Power

A department where we feel the lion is much superior is speed. The major reason is that lions can use all four legs to run and reach top speeds of 50 mph. Whereas gorillas are large bulky creatures. They can stand upright on their two hind legs but can’t move as fast as lions, even if they start using all four limbs. It’s still worth wondering how much a lion’s speed will help them in a forest environment covered with trees.

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So if you compare the two animals in the speed department, lions are the clear winners. But when it comes to the power department, gorillas win. The large silverbacks especially have large chiseled chests and strong, bulky arms that they can use to smash an animal’s face in if they decide to apply enough force.

These arms could also knock out the lion before they even get a chance to bite the gorilla. But it’s also worth mentioning that gorillas can’t move their arms as fast as lions, which could get them caught in the lion’s grip before they even have a chance to swing. The competition is pretty even in this section as well as both animals have an advantage over the other.

Physical Defenses

In the previous sections, we’ve discussed the gorillas’ and lions’ physical attributes in detail. So, we’ll just cut to the chase regarding their physical defenses. The major thing working in favor of gorillas is their incredible height and the fact that they possess opposable thumbs.

A physical attribute that could help them throw objects at lions from afar in a bid to throw them off. They are also incredibly strong and could resort to punching, picking up the predators, and throwing them.

On the other hand, lions have their special, sharp retractable claws and strong jaws working in their favor. They could use them to mortally injure the gorillas in the first few minutes of the fight, weakening them enough to take away their height and strength advantages. In this respect, we’d say the lions have a clear edge over their opponents.

Learn everything about lion pride hunting in this amazing Nat Geo documentary.

The Winner

Do we have an answer yet? Let’s see!

Given their tremendous strength, gorillas could use their power to combat an attacking lion and give them a tough fight. Since they are also more intelligent, they may be able to employ tools or battle strategies to outwit the lion.

But lions are innate predators and are less likely to back down from a fight. They could definitely outrun the gorilla even if it tried to flee – thanks to their speed and agility. These natural hunters would work as a team to take down larger prey. A lone gorilla probably wouldn’t have a chance if a pride of lions surrounded him.

It can all come down to luck in the end.

The gorilla would triumph if it could apply its raw strength to break the lion’s skull before the lion could strike for the kill. The lion would win if it could bite the gorilla’s neck or rip the animal’s flesh to the point of bleeding.

So we can conclude that both species have an equal chance of winning, given the situation and circumstances. A gorilla’s intimidating size and prowess in lifting and throwing gives it a better chance of frightening away a potentially hazardous lone lion. The silverback is poised to take home the trophy unless a pride of lions assaults a lone gorilla. 

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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