Length: about 3 feet (0.9 meters) from head to rump
Weight: males—90 to 120 pounds (40 to 55 kilograms); females—70 to 100 pounds (32 to 45 kilograms)
Life span: about 50 years in zoos
Gestation: about 7.5 months
Number of young at birth: usually 1, rarely 2
Size at birth: 4 pounds (1.9 kilograms)
Age of maturity: males—15 to 16 years; females—13 to 14 years
Conservation status: endangered
don’t like to be in water and usually can’t swim.
Some observers have noted chimps feeding on medicinal plants when they are ill or injured.
Research has shown that chimps and humans share 98 percent of their genes.
Chimps can recognize themselves in a mirror.
Chimpanzees make a grunting sound when they are happy. A toothy "grin" actually indicates fear or anxiety.
Another species of chimp is called a bonobo, or pgymy chimp Pan paniscus. Despite its name, this species has several physical characteristics that make it different from the common chimp, so it isn’t just a smaller version.
Listen to a chimpanzee!
Chimpanzees are very familiar to us humans, perhaps because so much of their behavior reminds us of ourselves. They are considered great apes, just like gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos. Their distinctive mode of travel—walking on the soles of their feet and the knuckles of their hands—have earned them the title of knuckle-walkers.
Chimps are very intelligent and can be trained by humans to perform a variety of tasks. For example, did you know that human beings were not the first to enter outer space? A chimp named Ham orbited Earth in 1961 and was taught simple commands to help test space travel for human astronauts. Ham became the first "American" in space! Because they are so smart, chimps have been involved in many scientific studies, and unfortunately some people keep them as pets. Taking them from the wild has caused a decline in their populations. People also hunt chimps for food (bushmeat) or to protect their crops from being eaten by hungry chimps. These conditions, plus loss of habitat, have resulted in the chimpanzee being an endangered animal.
Take a good look
There is no hair on a chimpanzee’s face, hands, or feet, but the rest of its body is covered with either long black or brown hair. Unlike other primates such as monkeys and baboons, chimps don’t have tails. But they do have large ears that stick out a bit, which helps them hear other chimps in a dense forest. Newborn chimps have pink skin under their dark hair that later turns black as they age. Like humans, chimps have opposable thumbs to help them grasp branches or grab a bite to eat, as well as fingernails and toenails.
Home for a chimpanzee is a community of other chimps made up of family groups. Within these family groups there are usually about 6 to 10 individuals. An entire chimp community can sometimes have as many as 100 members, made up of many different family groups. One experienced adult male chimp can be the leader of the community, although in other communities leadership is shared among several males. Chimps use body language, facial expressions, hand-clapping, grooming, and kissing to communicate within their community. Usually a male chimp stays in the community into which he was born, but females transfer to other communities when they become adults.
Rearing their young
Female chimps in the wild usually give birth for the first time when they are between 12 and 15 years old. The newborn is extremely helpless, and the youngster must stay with its mother until age seven before it can survive on its own. Soon after birth, the baby learns to cling to its mother’s underside. Later it will transfer to her back, and uses this "piggyback" style of riding for the next seven months or so. Young chimps get milk from their mothers until they are about three years old. They can begin walking on their own at about age four, but continue to stay with their mothers for a few more years, learning all the skills they need to survive. A mother chimp develops a close bond with her young that may last a lifetime.
Everything tastes good!
Chimpanzees eat a wide variety of food. Observers have recorded about 80 different items wild chimps eat, including seeds, fruit, leaves, bark, honey, flowers, and insects. This makes up most of their diet. However, chimpanzees also hunt other animals, like monkeys or small antelope, for meat. Feeding is usually an individual activity, but sometimes chimps look for food together. Chimpanzees are famous for using tools to get food. They often strip a branch of leaves and then dip it in an ant or termite hill to get the insects inside. When water is scarce, chimps chew leaves so they are soft and sponge-like—this allows them to then soak up rainwater inside of tree holes.