Size: 3 to 4.5 feet (0.9 to 1.3 m); 100 to 175 lbs (79.3 to 45.3 kg)
Characteristics: Playful, social, intelligent, expressive
Offspring: One to two approximately every five years
Predators: Lion, leopard
· 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 only a few thousand.
· Chimps use medical plants to treat themselves and other chimps for illness and injuries.
· Young chimpanzees and young baboons sometimes play together.
Chimpanzees are incredibly similar to humans in their genetics and behaviour. They’re extremely intelligent, 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 seen in photos and greeting cards of captive chimps dressed up in human clothing). They will reach their arms out to hold another chimp when they’re nervous or afraid, and kiss each other when greeting. They also hold hands with other chimps. In the wild, their diets consist of 60% fruit and leaves, with vegetation such as seeds, stems, bark, insects, honey, buds, and blossoms making up the next largest portion, and the final 2% of their diet consists of meat. Chimps are active during the day and each night, they build a new nest high in a tree to keep them 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, as a weapon, etc. Chimps can walk on two feet, but will use all four if they want to run or walk quickly. Chimps avoid water at all costs and usually don't swim, unless threatened by a predator.
Once found in more than 25 African countries, significant populations of chimps now exist in the open woodlands, rainforests and the savanna of only four equatorial African countries. Chimpanzees belong to social groups of up to 50 other chimps on large home ranges. The group members constantly interact, grooming each other and alerting the others when they find food. Deforestation 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 to the chimpanzee and a cause of disease in humans, such as the HIV virus and Ebola.
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 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 its first tooth. When the baby is about five months old, it begins to take one or two steps while holding onto its mother’s hand. Chimp youngsters have an unsteady gait until they’re about two years or more. Older siblings help to look after their younger brothers and sisters. Males don’t 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, when their permanent teeth start growing in. 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 brother or sister will adopt the child. Sterile adult females have been known to adopt orphans as well. Even after leaving his mother’s side, the grownup chimp will return periodically to visit. Chimps can live as long as 65 years and some females have been known to remain reproductive well into their fifties.