You are here:

Wild Animals/silver back gorilla versus a grizzly bear


John wrote at 2006-07-21 03:28:23
I agree with most of what you say Jonathan, but see my later comments below. It is curious how this question keeps cropping up because, as you note, the animals would not come to conflict in the wild even if they ever did occur in the same habitat. Unfortunately both grizzlies and gorillas are endangered in the wild. For all its alleged ferocity, however, the grizzly is not an animal to get into a fight with other species and even adult grizzlies have been observed being kept at bay from their own kills by a cougar (which itself avoids human contact as much as possible and is nowhere as dangerous as the big African and Indian cats) - grizzlies have even been known to back away from a wolverine which is a far smaller (but very aggressive) animal. There are instances of people hitting bears on the nose while being attacked and the bears then giving up. The question is often raised as to which animal is physically the strongest and in this case if one were comparing the morphology of the gorilla to the bear it would definitely be the great ape due to its anatomy and musculature. Bears are strong animals but not as strong as feline carnivores. Cougars and jaguars can drag prey 5 times their own weight and leopards frequently jump into trees with prey greater than their own weight, although overall it is said that the tiger (and probably the Siberian variety because of its size) is the strongest of all cats. No-one has ever measured the strength of a silverback gorilla (and indeed it would be very difficult to do so), but suffice it to say that anecdotal evidence of animals observed almost casually bending and snapping objects such as tempered steel bars (2 inches thick) and giant bamboo stalks, suggest that the gorilla has the muscle power of between 8-15 men and possibly more. Jersey Zoos Jambo was observed to hang from one arm (he was over 400 lbs) whilst methodically ripping over 200 ft of inner ceiling planks from the roof of the new gorilla house with his other arm (the planks were securely screwed and nailed), simply because he didn't like them. No other animal outside of the great apes has such a combination of strength and dexterity. The fact that gorillas don't use their strength to attack other animals in the manner of chimpanzees or baboons means very little as they are by their very nature, peaceful animals. Bushman of Chicago Zoo used to stretch a pneumatic car tyre the whole breadth of his armspan - a seemingly impossible feat and he also used to burst footballs while carrying them under his arm whilst running (this was when he was still not fully grown). Add to that the great dexterity and grasping ability of an ape's hands and limbs compared with the relatively non-dexterous bear paw and limbs, and the fact that a large portion of a bear's weight is fat for hibernation (the bear actually has a very similar skeleton to a dog) means that the gorilla has a stronger musculature and the bulk of its body weight is indeed comprised of muscle. Gorillas also have one of the most powerful jaws of any animal, which they use to get to the piths of various trees and plants. They can also use them in defence, and can inflict serious wounds with their bites if they so wish. Naturally, stories of their ferocity are largely unfounded, and when left alone, gorillas will never attack humans.

Incidentally, the weights of grizzly bears mentioned on this site is grossly overestimated. Here below are the average, range and highest recorded weights (some are estimates) for various bears. The average weight for a grizzly is 490 lbs. which is similar to that of a silverback gorilla (the heaviest captive gorilla measured weighed 790 lbs, but zoos generally consider 400-550 lbs to be healthy weights for adult males).

American Black Bear  250   125-600   803

Brown Bear          725  500-900   2,500+

Grizzly Bear        490  350-700   1,496

Polar Bear        1,150  900-1,500   2,210


Dennis wrote at 2008-04-18 19:07:05
I don't know how a gorilla could hurt a bear.  Sure Gorillas are extremely strong when you compare them to a man.  Grizzly bears are even more powerful, and lets not forget about the 4 inch nails that those bears have.  It could decapitate a gorilla with a well placed swipe.  

I'm voting BEAR.

Simon wrote at 2008-11-14 17:09:40
I'm definitely Voting for the Gorilla. Its more athletic and way more powerful than a bear. It has been said, that it has the power of 8-15 Strong men, and possibly even more! A human female' had once defend her children from at Polar Bear, Wrestling it <- ITS TRUE!  The bear was around 8 Feet long and weighed about 700 Pounds. and she was 5-foot-nothing and weighed 90 Pounds. and she survived until a guy ran home and got his rifle and went back to shot it. So an animal who can kill a in 1 Killer blow, has one of the strongest jaws and have been told' that it can bench 3000 Kg. Can kill a bear any time, anywhere, any bear! SMASH! DEAD! :D and by the way. The human brain i limiting us, to only lifting a MAXIMUM with 33 of our muscles. If we could use all our muscles at once, and our skeleton wouldn't break, a grown up man could lift 20 TON! ( 20.000 Kg) or 44092.45 lbs. (; and I'm Not even joking! see, that would be cool ox !

Dean wrote at 2009-03-25 22:45:12
The gorilla has thumbs though, it has the ability to grab things. Whereas the bear has paws. Surely the gorilla could use this to it's advantage.

EJZ wrote at 2009-07-07 23:20:16
You guys are all looking at the wrong bear, the best showdown is between the Kodiak Bear and the Silverback. The Kodiak bear has the highest percentage of attacks on people, and it's the same size as a polar bear. The Gorilla has huge muscle mass comparatively. The thumb factors in too, as it could pick up rocks and hurl them at the bear. The Bear could bite and scratch the gorilla, but these are animals. Unlike humans, they'll get up from being injured badly, where we would just give up. So, if the battle actually happened, it would really depend on who's landing the devastating blows.

Chip Douglas wrote at 2009-07-08 21:20:04
One must ponder at such accusations of distrust and misfortune. May we succeed with the futility of mankind? Will we fall like dustmites in a hedge of rosebuds.

Eitherway, the grizzly must find truth in his fur. Likewise the gorilla.

I believe in mangos.

Thank you.

eman wrote at 2009-09-21 02:56:17
I would hate to see these lovely peaceful creatures put to use for morbid mans entertainment - but the question is not about that! Were both threatened and fighting for their lives in a death match - and what about the Orangutan? Lion? Well the elephant trumps the bear most often second maybe rhino?  - grizzly black bear? Water based hippo's alligators whatever...

but what a fight and it should emulated

jone23 wrote at 2009-10-05 18:29:21
the gorilla would win...hes smaller but still only slightly weaker than the bear while being much more agile and much more intelligent.gorillas kill leopards frequetly they are used to fighting

forrealdog wrote at 2010-01-22 01:33:31
while reading animal conflicts I learned that the supreme gladiator among predators is the Grizzly bear. Pioneers in the settling of California found the grizzly bear to be unbelievably powerful ..They began to pit the bull against the bear and found the bear would kill the bull everytime in short order... The wealthy upper crust finally imported lions and tigers to release on the grizzly bear. According to eye witness accounts the lion would rush in and be killed by the bear almost immediately... the tiger , much more stealth in his approach gave a better account of himself but fell prey to the bear blows to the head ... so i guess the bear would probably do the same to the gorilla ... but i love gorillas

Jeff Preece wrote at 2010-04-23 22:40:39
I think if you saw the size of Jock at Bristol zoo England you may say the the bear would turn, he has to be seen to be believed

Note wrote at 2014-09-22 22:32:01
The key point is the gorilla can use its hands. Gorillas have strength to pick up small cars. It can knock out the bear in one punch.  

Wild Animals

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

©2016 All rights reserved.