Chimpanzee Fact File
Chimpanzees have a stout body with long arms, shorter legs and they have no tail.
They have long hair that varies in colour from light brown to a deep black on their bodies but their faces, hands and feet have no hair. After about the age of 20 they can start to get grey hair and suffer from partial baldness just like humans.
The skin on their faces, hands and feet varies in colour from light pink when they are very young to very dark as they become more mature.
They have opposable toes and thumbs that make it easy for them to grip things, and they also have fingernails and toenails.
Chimpanzees have large ears that can stick out a bit, this is useful to them when trying to hear other chimps in the dense forest. They have large brains and can walk on all four limbs but they are also able to walk upright for short distances if they are carrying something.
The average height of a chimpanzee standing upright is 1.2 metres (4 ft) with the males weight ranging from 40 to 55 kgs (90 to 120 pounds) and the females weight ranging from 32 to 45 kgs (70 to 100 pounds).
Wild 45 years
Captive 60 years
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Chimpanzees are omnivores and they have an extremely wide variety of foods in their diets. Most of their diet consists of fruit and also seeds, flowers, honey and bark. They eat a wide variety of plants often eating about 20 different species in a single day, and they will eat up to 300 different species in a year.
They also hunt other animals such as monkeys (mainly colobus) or small antelopes but this only makes up a small amount of their diet. They also eat many different varieties of insects but termites are the most nutrionally important for them. Chimpanzees will either get the termites by hand or they will make a tool to get them out of their mounds. They will take a tree branch and strip all the leaves off it and then dip it into the mound and get the termites out.
On occasion they chew leaves until they are soft and spongy and then put them into holes into trees to soak up the rainwater when water is scarce.
Africa is the native home of the chimpanzee. Here they can be found throughout Central and West Africa. They have the largest geographic range of any great ape and can be found across 21 countries.
They predominantly inhabit dense tropical rainforests but they are also found in woodlands, bamboo forests, swamps, secondary growth forests and even open savanna although usually only when they are moving from one area to another. Because they have an extremely varied diet they are able to live in a larger number of habitats.
Habitat destruction is their greatest threat as well as hunting both for bushmeat and the pet trade.
Breeding takes place year round in areas where there is an abundance of food. After a gestation period of 230 -240 days the female will give birth to a single baby, twins are very rare.
At birth the newborn will weigh approximately 1.9 kgs (4 pounds) and is extremely helpless. The newborn holds on tightly to the mothers breast for the first few months and then starts riding on the mothers back.
Just like a human baby chimpanzee young develop very slowly. They will suckle from their mother until they are about three years old and by about the age of 4 they will mostly be walking on their own. They will then stay with their mother for another few years learning all the skills that they need to know to survive on their own.
Just like human mothers chimpanzees often develop a close bond with their young that lasts all their life.
Sexual maturity is reached at 8 years old but they are typically 13-14 by the time they give birth for the first time.
Chimpanzees are humans closest living relatives and share about 98% of our genetic blueprint, they share some behaviours with humans.
Chimpanzees live in groups called communities and these communities are made up of several different family groups. The family groups are usually made up of 6 to 10 animals while the communities can have as many as 100 animals in them. There is a social heirachy within the communities with an alpha male usually the leader although in some communities the leadership is shared between several males.
Chimpanzees communicate in several ways such as vocalisations, body language, facial expressions, clapping, grooming and even kissing with other members of their family groups or communities.
Chimps are able to make tools for use in getting food and some also construct nests to sleep in at night in the trees. Chimpanzees have been known to show some behaviours which are very similiar to humans such as showing respect to each other, curiosity, mourning and romantic love. They also sometimes seem to “pretend play” with items.
Chimpanzees can recognise themselves in a mirror.
If they have a toothy “grin” it means they are actually anxious or scared, when they are happy they make a grunting sound.
They will use large sticks to throw at predators such as leopards and humans.
Chimpanzees do not like water and they usually can’t swim.
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Humle, T., Maisels, F., Oates, J.F., Plumptre, A. & Williamson, E.A. 2016. Pan troglodytes (errata version published in 2018). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T15933A129038584. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T15933A17964454.en. Downloaded on 11 May 2020.
Ambrose, J. and Packham, C., n.d. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley, p.210.
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