Today, Bill is a sought-after speaker for adults and youth. His infectious personality, great stories and chimpanzee multimedia presentation help audiences understand the chimpanzees’ behavior and emotional capacity, and the similarities and differences between humans and chimps. Bill’s passion for the chimps he knows so intimately truly makes him the Jane Goodall Institute’s “Chimp Champion.”
10 Things to Know About Chimpanzees
- Chimpanzees are one of our closest living relatives. In fact, humans and chimpanzees share 95 to 98 percent of the same DNA!
- Chimpanzees make and use tools. In fact, they use more tools for more purposes than any other creature except human beings. Visit the video page to watch videos of tool use at Gombe National Park in Tanzania.
We stand on the threshold of a future without chimpanzees in the wild.
The IUCN/World Conservation Union Red List of Threatened Species says each of the species of African great apes – chimpanzees, gorillas, and bonobos – as endangered. African apes are largely confined to the relatively intact forests of Equatorial Africa as their last remaining stronghold. Chimpanzees are likely extinct in 4 of their 25 range countries (Gambia, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin).
Chimpanzees communicate in many ways, most notably through sounds and calls. They also communicate with each other through touch, facial expressions and body language.
- Biologically, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to another species of great apes—gorillas. In fact, humans and chimpanzees share about 95 percent to 98 percent of the same DNA.
- Chimpanzees can catch and be infected with human diseases. Read more on this topic.
- In the wild, chimpanzees seldom live past age 50. Some captive individuals, however, have lived past the age of 60.
In 1960, Jane Goodall traveled to what was then Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve in the British protectorate of Tanganyika to study the behavior of the wild chimpanzees. The groundbreaking discoveries she made in Gombe became the foundation of future chimpanzee behavioral research and dramatically changed how animal behavior is studied.
"For the past 10 days, we have taken a different angle on filming chimps. Rather than shooting a fig-eating sequence in the traditional way—from the ground looking up 100 feet or so to the treetops—we decided to move up to the chimps' level.