10 Chimpanzee Facts
Find out what makes these gorgeous great apes so amazing…
Pack your bags for a family trip, gang – because we’re off to the tropical forests of Africa to catch up with one of our closest relatives! Check out our ten top chimpanzee facts…
Fast chimpanzee facts
Family name: Hominidae
IUCN status: Endangered
Lifespan (in wild): 45 years
Height: 1-1.7m when stood up straight
Habitat: Tropical forests and woodland savannahs
1) Chimpanzees are one of our planet’s ‘great apes’, along with gorillas and orangutans. They have long arms that extend below their knees, short legs and black hair covering almost their entire body. Their faces are flat with big eyes, a small nose and a wide mouth.
2) These amazing animals live in the tropical forests and woodland savannahs of West and Central Africa. Today, populations are fragmented, with the largest groups found in Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.
3) Did you know the DNA (the material that determines how a living thing will look and function) of chimps and humans is 98.5% the same? That’s how closely related we are! As a result, we share many similar features, such as expressive faces, big toes and hands that can grasp. We also show similar behaviours, and like us chimps laugh when playing, hug to show affection and are able to walk upright.
4) In the wild, chimpanzees live in ‘communities’ made up of around 15 to 80 members led by a dominant, alpha male. Within their communities, chimps sleep, travel and feed in smaller sub-groups of up to ten. These sub-groups can be very flexible, with members changing quickly and regularly.
5) After humans, chimpanzees are the most intelligent of our planet’s primates (an animal group which includes apes and monkeys, too), and they’ve developed impressive ways of communicating. These clever critters “talk” to each other using different gestures, facial expressions and numerous vocalisations, too, such as hoots, grunts and screams.
6) Chimpanzees are experts at grooming, and spend a lot of their time running their fingers through each other’s hair to remove dirt, pesky parasites and dead skin. Yucky, eh? Well, it might sound a bit gross to us, but grooming is an super important activity for these cool critters – it not only keeps them clean, but helps them build friendships and strengthen bonds with each other, too.
7) When it comes to food, chimpanzees aren’t exactly fussy! Fruit is at the top of their menu, but they also tuck into leaves, flowers, seeds, bird eggs, insects and even other animals, too, such as monkeys and wild pigs. Some groups of chimps eat up to 200 different kinds of food, in fact.
8) These awesome apes are one of the few animals that use tools to help them get things done. Chimpanzees have been known to crack open nuts with rocks, fish out insects from nests and logs using sticks, and shelter from the rain by holding up leaves like umbrellas. Impressive stuff!
9) Females generally give birth to a single chimp (or occasionally twins) every five to six years. For the first six months, the baby chimpanzee clings to the fur on its mother’s belly, and then later rides around on her back until the age of two. After that, the youngster will spend the next seven to ten years by its mother’s side learning how to find food, use tools and build nests to sleep in.
10) Once found throughout the tropical forests of West and Central Africa, today only around 150,000-200,000 chimpanzees remain in the wild. Sadly, since the early 19th century populations have declined because of habitat loss, hunting and capture for use in zoos, circuses and medical research. To find out what’s being done to help protect this precious, endangered species – and how you can help, too! – head over to worldwildlife.org