Silverback Gorilla Vs Leopard – Who Would Win In A Fight To Death?

Gorillas and leopards are some of the toughest and most dangerous animals today, especially if you get on their bad side. 

Gorillas are herbivores that mostly feed on stems, bamboo shoots, and fruits. On the other hand, leopards are apex predators. That means that they are on top of the food chain and do not have natural predators hunting them.

Looking at these two beasts, it is easy to wonder who would win in a fight to the death between a gorilla and a leopard. 

And believe it or not, these two animals happen to meet one another in their habitats in Africa.

Leopards are known to prey on younger gorillas, mostly Western lowland gorillas, the smallest gorilla species. But what would happen if a full-grown leopard was to clash with a fully grown gorilla?

Let’s explore the main characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of gorillas and leopards, and what would happen in a brawl between the two. Who do you have winning this duel?

gorilla vs leopard

Gorilla Vs Leopard – A Quick Overview

GorillaLeopard
Size– Height: 5 ft at the shoulder
– Weight: 300-500 lb
– Length: 5.9-7.2 ft
– Height: 2.3 ft at the shoulder
– Weight: 80-165 lb
– Length: 3 – 6.25 ft
Speed And Movement25 mph35 mph
Teeth And Biting Strength1300 PSI300-310 PSI
Senses– Human-like sense of smell
– Human-like hearing
– Human-like eyesight (color vision)
– Acute sense of smell
– Acute hearing
– Excellent vision (7x better night vision than humans)
Defensive Powers– Dense bones
– Intelligence
– Use of weapons
– Agility and speed
– Camouflage
Offensive Powers– Excellent Strength
– Sharp teeth
– Strong punches
– Use of weapons
– Excellent Strength
– Sharp teeth
– Strong paws
– Excellent predatory skills
Aggression LevelsModerateHigh

Physical Features Of A Gorilla And A Leopard 

To determine the winner of this duel, we will take into consideration several factors. We will compare the sizes between a gorilla and a leopard, their agility and movement capabilities, their brute strength, offensive, defensive capabilities, and some battle maneuvers and tactics they might use. 

Gorilla Vs Leopard: Size

huge silverback gorilla

Gorilla is the largest living primate. It can reach around 5 ft at the shoulder, 6 ft when on its hind legs, and weighs between 300 and 500 lbs. The largest gorilla ever was an eastern lowland gorilla from St. Louis Zoo that weighed massive 860 pounds. 

Leopard is the smallest of large cats, which includes lions, tigers, and jaguars. It is around 2.3 ft high at the shoulder and can weigh between 80 and 165 pounds. According to Guinness World Records, the largest species of leopards are the Persian and Sri Lankan leopards that can grow up to 200 pounds.

When it comes to sheer size, gorillas have an advantage in a fight as they are around 3 to 4 times bigger than leopards.

Gorilla Vs Leopard: Speed and Movement

snow leopard

Gorillas run on all fours and can reach speeds of up to 25 mph. They move around by knuckle-walking – they put their weight on the knuckles, rather than on palms. 

Leopards are the slowest of big cats, but still hit a top speed of 35 mph. If hungry, they can go even faster and reach 40 mph. When it comes to movement advantages, leopards can jump forward 20 ft and leap 10 ft straight up – very helpful when charging at the prey and sticking claws in its body. Gorillas are not the best at jumping

Gorillas are excellent climbers but very poor when it comes to swimming. Leopards, on the other hand, are strong swimmers and exceptional climbers. 

Gorillas and leopards are both fast animals, but leopards have the advantage as they have better movements and are a lot more agile. 

Gorilla Vs Leopard: Pure Strength

When it comes to brute strength, gorillas are nature’s freaks. According to the Guinness Book of Records, one silverback gorilla managed to lift 1,800 lbs of weight. It is said that one gorilla has the strength of 15 men. Gorillas have a lot of fast-twitch fibers that allow them to generate lots of power at once when trying to KO their rival. 

Despite being the smallest of big cats, pound-for-pound, leopards are the strongest cats in the world. They can climb a 50 feet tree while holding a kill in their mouths heavier than themselves.

Gorilla’s strongest weapon is its brute strength. They are a lot stronger than leopards and have the advantage here.

Gorilla Vs Leopard: Bite Power And Teeth

amur leopard canine teeth

Gorillas have 32 teeth, just like us. They also have long and sharp canines that can grow up to 2 inches long and produce a biting force of around 1,300 PSI. Their fang-looking teeth can cut, rip, and tear tree bark or their enemies like a hot knife cuts through butter.

Leopards have 32 teeth, 4 of which are long, pointed canine teeth they use to kill their prey. They can grow up to 2 inches long. Other teeth are used for cutting flesh and grinding bones. Leopard’s teeth and jaw muscles can produce bite power of around 310 PSI, significantly lower than a gorilla.

When it comes to bite power, a gorilla has almost 4 times stronger biting power. Gorillas use their teeth to break tree bark and leopards use their teeth for killing other animals; despite that, gorillas have the advantage when it comes to bite power and jaw strength. 

Read More: Hyena Against a Gorilla

Gorilla Vs Leopard: Claws

gorilla with a stick

Gorillas do not have claws but fingernails and toenails they use for opening, scraping, cleaning, and scratching. They might not have claws, but gorillas might use weapons like sticks when defending themselves.

Leopards have retractable, razor-sharp, and curved claws that can grow around 1 inch. They use them to grasp and hold onto prey. When they are approaching their target, leopards retract their claws to make themselves silent.

When it comes to claws, leopards have a clear advantage.

Gorilla Vs Leopard: Senses

Gorillas have similar senses to humans, including hearing, sight (they seem to be slightly nearsighted and to have color vision), and smell. Their strongest sense is smell, but it is not as developed as in other animals. 

Leopards have an acute sense of hearing and smell, and excellent binocular vision to locate their prey. When the dark comes, leopards have a mirror-like membrane at the back of the retina that reflects light and allows them to see in total darkness. Their whiskers help detect prey in dark spots and also give an indication of the size of the place walking around to prevent the head and body from getting stuck.

Leopards have a clear advantage over gorillas when it comes to senses and spotting out prey or an approaching enemy. 

Gorilla Vs Leopard: Physical Defenses

gorilla muscles

Gorillas have lots of muscle (around 40% of their body weight is muscles) and very dense bones – this might come in handy when reducing a leopard’s impact. Gorillas also use intimidation tactics to scare their enemies – this might come in handy against a lot smaller leopards.

Leopards have spotted fur that allows them to blend well with the environment, allowing the cat to sneak up and capture its prey. Such camouflage helps them stay hidden from competitors and predators, like lions and tigers. Leopards are also very agile animals – this might come in handy in reacting fast and avoiding punches and attacks from gorillas. 

When it comes to physical defenses, it is tied between gorillas and leopards. Each of these two has a different mechanism it helps it survive. 

Read More: Lion Vs Kodiak Bear – Who Wins?

Gorilla Vs Leopard: Combat Skills 

gorilla canines

Gorillas are not predatory animals. They do not go and hunt other animals – they seriously lack the predatory instinct. On the other hand, the main offensive weapon of a gorilla is its supernatural strength. It can charge at its enemy, grab its limbs, and crush them. Gorillas will also use their sharp canine teeth to bite and penetrate the flesh of another animal. They might also use weapons such as sticks or rocks. 

Leopards, like most cats, rely on ambushing their prey. They prefer to stalk first, then circle in closely, and finally attack by charging from behind.  Leopards will make a brief and explosive charge, pounce on their prey,  and dispatch it with a bite to the neck. They usually aim to damage the spinal cord and stop the prey from moving and breathing. 

Battle FeaturesGorillaLeopard
Size
Speed And Movement
Strength
Bite Power
Claws
Senses
Defense
Offense

Read More: Kodiak Bear Against A Gorilla – Who Wins?

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Gorilla And A Leopard?

In a head-to-head fight in the open between a gorilla and a leopard, a gorilla would have a slightly better chance of winning. Leopards have the speed and agility, developed hunting skills, razor-sharp claws, and know where to bite to kill their victim, but a fully grown gorilla would be too big of a catch for the leopard. 

Just because of their brute size and strength, gorillas have the advantage in this match. One lucky hit with their massive fists to the spine and the leopard would be torn to pieces by the aggressive gorilla.

This does not mean that the leopard would have no chance in this match-up. The leopard would put up a fight and leave a mark on the gorilla. If the fight would to happen in a dense forest, where a leopard could sneak up on the unsuspecting gorilla, the leopard might win. A lunge on the gorilla’s back, paws buried deep in the skin, a bite to the neck, and the gorilla would be dead.

Leopards are also nocturnal hunters; gorillas have poor night vision and sleep at night. This gives a leopard a clear edge under night conditions.

In its book, One Traveller’s Africa, Cynthia Nolan mentions how a black leopard attacked and killed 4 gorillas. The leopard stalked up on them at night when they were sleeping, bit off their testicles, and severed their large arteries.

In nature, a leopard might prey on smaller gorillas, but they generally avoid large Silverback gorilla leaders. They know that a fight with a large male brings a big risk of injury which would prevent the leopard from hunting again.

If a gorilla wins easily against a leopard, then it’s a more even match-up against a larger cat like the jaguar. Read more about it here.

The bottom line here is that the leopards are better assassins, but gorillas are the better warriors.

Read More: Tiger Against A Kodiak Bear – Who Wins?

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