Gorilla Symbolism & Meaning & the Gorilla Spirit Animal

Gorilla Symbolism and Meaning

Gorilla symbolism and meanings include strength, intelligence, communication, dignity, tranquility, gentleness, and family. Native to the mountains and forests of central and west Africa, the gorilla is an important figure in the mythology and folklore of these regions. In addition, the gorilla spirit animal is an important figure for those who feel a special kinship with these magnificent primates. In this post, we’ll explore all aspects of gorilla symbolism and meanings, including gorilla spiritual meaning and the gorilla spirit animal, as well as gorilla mythology, folklore, and more.

Baby Gorilla

What does a gorilla symbolize?

  • Strength
  • Intelligence
  • Communication
  • Dignity
  • Tranquility
  • Gentleness
  • Family and Friends

Gorilla in the Forest

Gorilla Meaning: Strength

Known for their formidable strength, the gorilla can lift things that are 10 times their body weight. In fact, gorillas are 9 times stronger than we are.1 Yet despite their almighty strength, the gorilla is a non-aggressive animal. The gorilla can definitely be described as the strong, silent type.

The gorilla sets an example for us to never abuse our power. Strength comes in all forms, from emotional strength to intellectual, social, and more. The gorilla reminds us to use any power that we have wisely, with restraint, and to be a force for good in the world.

When the gorilla is your spirit animal, you are a person who can summon stores of strength when you need it – even if you don’t initially think you have it. Gorilla people have inner reserves of power.

Gorilla Symbolism: Intelligence

Thoughtful Gorilla

The gorilla possesses the rare combination of brains and brawn. Gorillas are considered to be highly intelligent. Like elephants, they display complex emotions, from joy to humor to grief. In addition, they have complex social lives that involve their immediate families, extended families with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and relationships with gorillas who are more like friends and acquaintances. In addition, like chimpanzees, ravens, and otters, gorillas use tools to make it easier to achieve desired outcomes.

If the gorilla is your spirit animal or a gorilla suddenly makes themselves known to you, whether in real life, art, or the media, you are reminded of your own miraculous intelligence. Our minds are capable of so much more than we realize.

As we go about our busy lives, applying short-attention spans to our phones, we are not optimizing our brain power. Ironically, Buddhists call these scattered, runaway thoughts the “monkey mind.” in sharp contrast, the gorilla sits quietly in nature and ponders. They remind us to take time for deep, contemplative thinking. So, maybe it’s time to be more like a gorilla. Sit quietly for a while and think deeper thoughts.


Many of us are familiar with Koko, the gorilla who learned sign language. She showed us that she had an active mind and had things to say. The gorilla may not have our vocal cords, but they can express themselves, nonetheless. They do this through facial expressions, sounds, body language, and in Koko’s case – sign language.

Here is a video of Koko using sign language with her trainer, Francine (Penny) Patterson:

One of the things that Koko, the gorilla, taught us is how to be a good ambassador when it comes to communication. Koko was willing to learn the foreign language of creatures from another species. And with that willingness, she taught us about her world and learned about ours.

The gorilla’s ability to communicate in a foreign language is a reminder that communication thrives on generosity of spirit. Many of us like to talk without thinking enough about how we are being understood. The gorilla spirit animal reminds us that good communication requires empathy and attention.


As they sit in contemplative silence, the gorilla embodies dignity. In their bearing, they demonstrate a sense of self and self-respect.

Other people can be rude, patronizing, and even abusive. The gorilla reminds you not to lower your vibration to theirs. If someone provokes you in some way, you have every right to beat your chest and remind them of your boundaries. However, in most cases, the dignity of your bearing will be enough to repel their negative energy.


Silverback Gorilla in the Mist

In contrast to their raucous primate cousin, the baboon, the gorilla is a mellow, peaceful spirit. Gorillas are known to have a daily routine that involves foraging and eating, napping, playing, and grooming each other.2 And in the evening, they make up their bed of leaves and settle down to sleep, with the young gorillas sleeping in trees for protection. For the most part, the gorilla lives a tranquil life.

If the gorilla resonates with you, it can be a sign that you need to find more tranquility in your own life. Think of your daily routine and how you might bring more peacefulness to every aspect.


Koko the Gorilla with Kitten
Koko the gorilla with a kitten on her head. Image: The Gorilla Foundation.

For an animal that is nearly 10 times as strong as we are, the gorilla is capable of incredible gentleness and self-restraint. After all, what made it believable that King Kong wouldn’t squash Ann Darrow in the palm of his hand is the inherent gentleness that gorillas possess.

Like the gorilla, we all have the potential to be mean and even violent. The gorilla reminds us to honor our gentle natures. If we’re grouchy, irritated, or experiencing other negative emotions, it’s important not to take it out on others. We may have a gorilla-sized chip on our shoulders. However, the gorilla spirit animal reminds us to stay calm and remember our compassion for others.

Here’s a video of Koko playing with kittens:

Gorilla Symbolism: Family and Friends

Troop of Gorillas

Gorillas live in large groups, which are sometimes called troops. These troops might have dozens of members. The gorilla has deep relationships with their immediate family members as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins. In addition, they form strong relationships with other gorillas who are friends. And in situations where the gorilla troop is very large, the gorillas will interact with each other, but more in the way that human acquaintances do.3

The gorilla spirit reminds us to cherish those who are nearest and dearest to us first. They should be the biggest recipients of our energy in this lifetime. We may have a wide social circle. But if our closest family members or friends are not benefiting from our presence, we should make adjustments in our lives. The gorilla spirit animal teaches us that putting time, attention, and love into our closest relationships is a life that is well lived.

Gorilla Mythology and Folklore

Two Gorillas with Baby

Gorillas live in the mountainous regions of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as the lowland forests of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, Angola, Congo, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.4 In the places they call home, gorillas are important beings to many of the local people.

Bulu Gorilla Meanings

The Bulu People of Cameroon believe the gorilla is one of the wisest animals, along with the chimpanzee. They also believe the gorilla is their closest relative. In fact, in Bulu stories, the gorilla speaks to the people, asking for their trust and help.

The Bulu call the gorilla ngo or ngui, which means positive force. They associate the gorilla with the energy of fire.

In parts of Cameroon, Gabon, and Central African Republic, the locals tell stories of people shapeshifting into gorillas or being reincarnated as gorillas. In addition, they have sacred gorilla societies, including some that do gorilla dances.

Kwele Gorilla Meanings

The Kwele People of eastern Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon tell stories of gorillas who are reincarnated with human souls. These gorillas have special powers as witch doctors do and they can be friendly or malevolent. For these reasons, in Kwele culture it is taboo to hunt gorillas.

Some of the locals in these regions say the gorilla is their ancestor. In addition, they say their herbalists learned about medicinal plants from the gorilla. Thus, they say that hunting or harming a gorilla can put the people in danger.5

Gorilla Spirit Animal

Gorilla Spirit Animal

The gorilla is a mighty spirit guide. As a symbol of strength, intelligence, and gentleness, the gorilla embodies a special combination that is all too rare in the world.

When the gorilla is your spirit guide, you are reminded that you have stores of inner strength that you may not always realize you have. The gorilla also reminds you to always maintain your dignity. You are, after all, the king or queen of your jungle.

If you’re curious about other animals who might be your spirit guides, you can take UniGuide’s spirit animal quiz in my overview post about spirit animals.

Gorilla Power Animal

Gorilla Power Animal

As the name implies, a power animal can empower you with their most dynamic traits.
So, if you want to transform an area of your life, consider the attributes that the gorilla power animal represents. For example, you can summon the gorilla power animal in situations where you:

  • Want to improve your relationships with the most important people in your life.
  • Need to handle a sticky situation with compassion and gentleness.
  • Want to improve your communication skills and how you come across.
  • Feel that you can’t handle a challenge and you need to find an inner reserve of strength and intelligence.
  • Have been hurt or disrespected and you need to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and maintain your dignity.

Gorilla Totem Animal

An animal totem encapsulates the protective powers of the animal it represents. Thus, a gorilla totem is a helpful talisman when you need to find inner strength. It’s also a good luck symbol if you want to start a family or find a close group of supportive friends. In addition, the gorilla totem is helpful for finding more tranquility in your life.

Gorilla Dream Meaning

Gorilla Dream

If you dream of a gorilla or troop of gorillas and you wonder what your dream could be telling you, consider the emotions you felt in your dream. While dream meanings and interpretations are personal to every individual, one thing we all have in common is that our subconscious emotions don’t not lie to us. They can reveal underlying issues we should address in our wakeful state.

Gorillas can be both calming and intimidating. So, a dream about a gorilla in which you feel threatened can mean you feel overpowered by a person or situation in your wakeful life. The gorilla dream can be a message that you need to find your own inner strength to deal with a situation.

In contrast, a peaceful dream about a gorilla or troop of gorillas can mean you have a beneficial spiritual connection with these animals. By the same token, if you dream of a gorilla or gorillas in distress, it could mean you are sensitive to these animals and you are picking up on psychic signals and may want to take action to protect them.

While dreams are unique to every individual, hopefully understanding more about gorilla behavior and symbolic meanings can bring insights into what your dream is telling you.

Gorilla Tattoo Meaning

Gorilla TattooA gorilla tattoo can show the world that you are a strong but gentle person. It may also signify your devotion to your family or a close circle of friends. Of course, a gorilla tatooo can also mean that you value gorilla conservation. Tattoos are deeply personal to the person whose skin they adorn. Yet learning more about the gorilla, what they symbolize. and how they live can hopefully bring deeper meanings to your tattoo.

How You Can Help Gorillas

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), gorillas are endangered, with some populations critically endangered, including the western lowland gorilla and the Cross River gorilla.6 Gorillas have lost their natural habitats to agricultural development and mining. In addition, people hunt them. If you care about gorillas, please do what you can to protect them. Here are some organizations that are working on gorilla conservation and habitat protection:

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10 Responses

  1. Thank you for such an insightful article. I had a peaceful dream of a gorilla & grew an interest in these mighty animals. I wish to learn more…

  2. Recently a peaceful gorilla enraptured by classical music appeared in my dream. Your writing helped me to investigate the dream’s meaning and feel closer to theses relatives of ours. Thank you!

  3. I will be donating as soon as I can, I can’t believe they are endangered thank you for this beautiful article Jehovah loves you

  4. Thank you so much for this wonderful article. This really helped me. I love the images as well. You’ve given me so much to think about.

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Kristen M. Stanton

Hello. Thanks for visiting UniGuide. My name is Kristen and I started UniGuide as a tribute to nature, animals, and spiritual exploration. I hope you enjoy your experience here!