Gorillas are primates and part of the same family as humans (Hominidae). Grizzly bears are some of the largest apex predators in the world.
These two mammals have no chance of meeting in the wild, but if they would, who would win a fight?
Gorillas are about four to nine times stronger than humans. However, the largest grizzly bears are stronger than gorillas. Grizzlies also have longer fangs, and, as apex predators, they are more aggressive. Even though gorillas have a stronger bite, they are likely to lose the fight due to their more submissive behavior.
The table below shows a quick overview of grizzly bear vs. gorilla strength differences and facts*:
|Body size||5 to 6 feet||5 to 8 feet long|
|Weight||310 to 500 pounds||200 to 720 pounds|
|Teeth size||2 inches||3 inches|
|Bite force||1,300 PSI||975 PSI|
|Speed||25 miles per hour||35 miles per hour|
|Strike force||7,750 to 12,500 lb.-ft./s||7,000 to 25,200 lb.-ft./s|
|Paw size||Approx. 6 x 12 inches||Approx. 5 x 7 inches|
|Geographic range||Equatorial Africa||Western North America|
|Habitat||Tropical or montane cloud forests||Prairies, woodlands, alpine meadows, prairies|
|Conservation status||Critically endangered||Least concern|
*For comparison purposes, we considered the silverback gorilla (adult male) physical characteristics and strength characteristics for all gorilla species. These figures are averages and can vary from one species to another.
The strike forces were calculated considering the top speed for each species and multiplying it by the lowest and heaviest weight in the range.
Gorilla Vs. Grizzly Bear: 13 Differences
Grizzly bears and gorillas may be similar in color and size, but they are very different mammals.
Gorillas are great apes and part of the Hominidae family. This is the same family humans belong to, in the order of primates.
Grizzly bears are a type of brown bear (Ursus arctos) and part of the Ursidae family. This family includes black and polar bears, all of which belong to the order Carnivora.
While grizzly bears are actually a brown bear subspecies, the Gorilla genus includes two species: western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and eastern or mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei).
2. Body Size
Grizzlies and gorillas belong to different orders and families, and they can be quite different in size.
Grizzly bears are the largest in continental North America, with the exception of polar bears who only roam regions near the arctic.
Kodiak bears are larger than grizzlies, but they are confined to the Kodiak archipelago and isolated from all other bears.
Specifically, grizzlies can grow up to eight feet in length and reach shoulder heights between three and five feet.
Mountain gorillas, which are the largest of the two species, are about the same size as taller men – six feet tall.
A grizzly standing on all fours is typically shorter than a gorilla. However, some of the largest grizzlies can be about two feet taller when rising on their hind legs.
Not only are grizzly bears larger than gorillas, but they are also heavier.
Silverback gorillas – adult males – weigh between 310 and 500 pounds on average, depending on the species. Some of the largest silverbacks caught in the wild were slightly heavier but didn’t exceed 600 pounds.
In captivity, the heaviest gorilla ever recorded weighed a whopping 860 pounds, but that’s still lighter than some of the heaviest grizzly bears.
In fact, grizzlies weigh between 200 and 720 pounds on average. However, it is not uncommon for heavier males to weigh up to 1,700 pounds.
4. Teeth Size
Grizzlies are larger and heavier than gorillas, and they also have longer canine teeth – a trait that gives them an advantage during a fight.
In fact, grizzly bear fangs can grow up to three inches long. Even the cubs younger than five months have long teeth, measuring around half an inch.
Gorillas have long canines too, but they are only about two inches long.
5. Bite Force
Despite their longer teeth, grizzlies actually have a weaker bite force than gorillas.
The great apes have very strong jaws and can exert up to 1,300 PSI of force when biting. Grizzlies have strong jaws, too – a lot stronger than humans and other carnivores – but their bite force is only about 975 PSI.
An important distinction, though, is that grizzlies can typically concentrate the force on their canines – they are essentially carnivores and use their canine teeth to tear the flesh off bones.
Gorillas have a much weaker force when biting with their canines, the actual force being exerted by their molars.
That’s because gorillas, like most great apes, use their molars to crush seeds and nuts, and their meat intake is typically constituted by insects.
Thus, gorillas wouldn’t have a real advantage in a fight despite their greater bite force.
Another area where grizzly bears win is the speed: these mammals can reach top speeds up to 35 miles per hour.
Gorillas are a lot slower, sprinting at top speeds of 25 miles per hour – and this only for short distances.
For longer distances, grizzlies can sustain a speed of about 28 miles per hour. Gorillas’ speed drops to around 20 miles per hour.
7. Strike Force
There are no scientific studies on the strike force grizzly bears or gorillas can muster, but both mammals are very strong.
For the purpose of this comparison, we calculated the maximum impact force of each species by multiplying the top speed each mammal can reach by the top weight.
According to these calculations, gorillas can manage an impact force of up to 12,500 lb.-ft./s. However, grizzly bears are about twice as strong, managing an impact force of up to 25,200 lb.-ft./s.
Transformed in pounds of force, a heavy gorilla running at full speed could hit a bear with a force of 388 pounds. Likewise, a heavy grizzly running at top speed could hit the gorilla with 783 pounds of force.
However, it is likely that gorillas are a lot stronger. Similar to humans, they can throw punches if needed – something grizzly bears can’t do.
While there are no official studies, it is estimated that the punch force of gorillas is about 2,700 pounds. This is strong enough to shatter bones with one slam.
8. Paw Size
Not only is it believed that gorillas could throw killer punches, but the impact surface would also be wide.
That’s because gorillas have very large hands that measure around 6 by 12 inches – comparatively, the average human male hands measure around 3.5 by 7.6 inches.
Grizzly bear paws are closer in size to a human hand, measuring around 5 by 7 inches.
An important difference between grizzlies and gorillas, though, is that grizzlies have long and sharp claws, whereas gorillas do not.
According to specialists, grizzly bear claws can grow anywhere between two and four inches long. This is another important weapon to use in a fight.
Another point in favor of grizzlies comes from each mammal’s behavior.
Gorillas are large primates, but they have a mostly docile behavior. This social species lives in groups of up to 15 individuals and mostly feeds on insects and plants.
Unless threatened, gorillas are peaceful and shy. The only exception could be a silverback gorilla during the breeding season, even though the social hierarchy within the troop makes it so that conflicts are typically avoidable.
Grizzlies are solitary and territorial animals. They have an omnivorous diet, but they are essentially carnivores.
Like most predators, grizzly bears have more aggressive behavior, and they can become particularly aggressive when they feel threatened.
Gorillas and grizzly bears alike are omnivores, but gorillas are primarily herbivores and only occasionally eat insects.
Eastern gorillas typically have exclusively vegetarian diets, eating leaves, fruits, berries, and other plant materials. Western gorillas also have a primarily vegetarian diet, but they include insects in their meals more often than eastern gorillas.
Like most brown bears, grizzly bears are opportunistic omnivores. They eat leaves, roots, tubers, berries, fruits, and mushrooms, but they are also active hunters and can become scavengers.
11. Geographic Range
Gorillas and grizzly bears live in different parts of the world, and they have no chance of meeting in the wild.
Gorillas – eastern and western alike – are native to Africa. As their name suggests, eastern gorillas live in East Africa, along the northern border of Rwanda.
Western gorillas have a more expansive range, from Cameron to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Grizzly bears live in North America, mostly in Canada and in certain areas in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington states in the USA.
Gorillas typically live in tropical forests in areas with open canopies that allow light to reach the forest floor. They can also be found in montane rainforests.
Grizzly bears are not too fussy about their habitat. They can be found in forests, woodlands, prairies, and alpine meadows.
13. Conservation Status
Another difference between the two mammals is their conservation status.
Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bears, and as a whole, the species is not threatened. That doesn’t mean the grizzly bears, in particular, aren’t at risk.
In fact, governments consider them endangered, and it is estimated that there are fewer than 2,000 individuals in the US.
Gorillas – both subspecies – are critically endangered. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, there are around 100,000 western gorillas and 2,600 eastern gorillas left in the wild.
Who Would Win A Fight?
Gorillas may be the strongest of great apes, but their strength is no match for grizzly bears.
Technically, bite strength is all gorillas got for themselves. Grizzly bears are larger, heavier, and physically stronger than gorillas.
They have longer canines designed to rip through flesh, as well as long and sharp claws that can shred through thick skin.
Grizzly bears are also more aggressive than gorillas, considering that they are apex predators accustomed to pursuing and catching prey.
They are even faster than gorillas – no matter how we look at it, gorillas wouldn’t stand a chance.