Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family:    Pongidae
Size:    Height: 3 to 5 feet (0.91 to 1.5 m)
Weight: 55 to 196 pounds (25 to 89 kg)
Diet: Fruit, leaves, seeds, stems, bark, termites, ants, caterpillars, honey, buds, blossoms and meat
Distribution: Africa
Young:  1 to 2 babies approximately every 5 years
Animal Predators:  Lion and leopard
IUCN Status: Endangered
Terms: No special terms
Lifespan: Up to 50 years in the wild and more than 60 years in captivity



·       Some chimps have learned to communicate with humans using American Sign Language.

·       Chimpanzees and humans have a 98.4% genetic compatibility.

·       The chimp population has dropped in the past 50 years from millions to less than 150,000.

·       Chimps use medical plants to treat themselves and other chimps for illness and injuries.

·       Young chimpanzees and young baboons sometimes play together.



Chimpanzees have thick black fur and large ears. When they are young, they have pink skin, but as they mature, it becomes black. Their arms are longer than their legs and they have opposable thumbs. Males are slightly larger and heavier than females. 



Chimpanzees can be found in 21 African countries, in secondary re-growth forests, swamp forests, bamboo forests, open woodlands and even open savanna with bands of riverine forest.   


Feeding Habits

Their diets are almost entirely vegetarian, and consist of 60 percent fruit and leaves, with seeds, stems, bark, termites, ants, caterpillars, honey, buds, and blossoms making up the next largest portion, and the final two percent of their diet consists of meat. 



Females have menstrual cycles much like humans, and breeding takes place year-round. Males tend to be attracted to older, experienced females. The female gives birth after an eight-month pregnancy. The newborn weighs only two to four pounds and has a white tail tuft that disappears eventually, just after they reach early adulthood. The mother and child form a strong bond and will stay together for at least seven years. During the first months of the newborn’s life, the mother will carry the baby in her arms. At three months, the baby gets his first tooth. When the baby is about five months old, he begins to take one or two steps while holding onto his mother’s hand. Chimp youngsters have an unsteady gait until they are about two years or more. Older sisters often help to look after the youngsters. Males do not share in raising the child, but they do patrol the borders of their area to make sure females and children are safe. They also are extremely tolerant of all children, patiently allowing them to jump on them and play with them. Chimps are usually weaned at about five years of age. Adolescence begins at nine years and sexual maturity is reached from 10 to 13 years of age. In cases where a mother dies before the child is independent, the child has been known to die of heartbreak, although sometimes an older sibling may adopt the child. Unrelated chimpanzees have been known to adopt orphans as well. Even after leaving their mother, grownup chimps will return periodically to visit. Some females have been known to remain reproductive well into their forties.



Chimpanzees are incredibly similar to humans in their genetics and behaviour. They are extremely intelligent, are able to learn various forms of communicating with humans, and have a wide variety of facial expressions which resemble those of humans, including smiling, laughing, pressing their lips together when annoyed, and baring their teeth when angry. When fearful, they sometimes show a nervous grin, as exhibited in photos. Chimps share many of the same emotions as humans, such as joy, sadness and despair. They will reach their arms out to hold another chimp when they are nervous or afraid, and kiss each other when greeting. They also hold hands with other chimps.  Chimps are active during the day and each night, they build a new nest high in a tree to keep safe from predators. Like humans, they make tools from sticks or rocks and use them in a variety of ways—to dig up plants or insects, crack open nuts, as a weapon, etc. Chimps can walk on two feet, for instance, if they are carrying sometime, or to see ahead, but will use all four if they want to run or walk quickly. Chimps do not like water at all and are not usually able to swim unless they become extremely excited. Chimpanzees belong to social groups of 20 to 100 other chimps. The group members constantly interact, grooming each other and alerting the others when they find food. 



Deforestation, mainly due to human overpopulation, has greatly decreased the chimpanzees’ territory and they are also illegally hunted by humans not only for pets, but for the bushmeat trade as well, a major threat not only to chimpanzees but to other African animals as well. Bushmeat is believed to carry diseases to humans, such as the HIV virus and Ebola. 



Chimpanzee Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees, Imax Film, 2002