Chimpanzees are one of four types of “great ape.” The great apes are: chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans.
Wild chimpanzees only live in Africa.
Humans and chimpanzees share 95 to 98 percent of the same DNA. Biologically, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas.
Chimpanzees and other species, including some types of birds, make and use tools. For a long time, scientists thought human beings were the only ones who made tools.
Chimpanzees use more tools for more purposes than any other creatures except humans.
In captivity, chimpanzees can be taught human languages such as ASL (American Sign Language). A chimp named Washoe knows more than 240 signs.
Chimpanzees can catch or be infected with human diseases.
Chimpanzees in the wild rarely live longer than 50 years. Captive chimps can live more than 60 years.
Chimpanzees sometimes hunt and eat small mammals such as bushbuck or monkeys.
They also eat fruits, nuts, seeds, blossoms, leaves, and many kinds of insects.
Chimpanzees have a wide variety of tastes and are able to live in a wide variety of habitats, unlike gorillas and orangutans who have narrower diets.
Different chimpanzee groups use tools in different ways. Chimpanzees of the Tai Forest in Cote d'Ivoire crack open nuts with rocks, for example, while the Gombe chimps have never been seen doing this.
One of the chimpanzee calls is the "pant-hoot." Each individual has his or her own distinctive pant-hoot, so that the chimp can be identified with precision.
Chimpanzees laugh when they play.
Chimps groom each other. Grooming helps relations within the community and calms nervous or tense chimps.
When chimpanzees are angry or frightened their hair stands on-end.
Male chimpanzees show their power in "displays." Their hair stands on end so they look bigger, they scream, stamp their feet, and go on a tear, dragging branches, or hurling rocks. This may scare other chimpanzees and keep them from picking a fight.
Mothers and dependent young (up to age seven or so) are always together.
Chimpanzees communicate much like humans do -- by kissing, embracing, patting on the back, touching hands, tickling.
When a mother dies, her orphaned offspring may be unable to survive. But older siblings often adopt their orphaned brothers or sisters, and occasionally infants are adopted by chimps not related to them.
Infant chimpanzees have a white tail tuft that disappears after their childhood.
Chimpanzees walk on all fours and have longer arms than legs. They are called “knuckle walkers” because they use their knuckles for support.
Like humans, chimps have opposable thumbs and opposable big toes which allow them to grip things with their feet.
At Gombe National Park, site of Jane Goodall's research, adult males weigh between 90 and 115 pounds. They are about 4 feet tall when standing upright. Females are slightly smaller. (Chimpanzees in West Africa and those in captivity may be larger.)
Chimpanzees are not meant to be pets; a full-grown chimpanzee has five or six times the strength of a human being.
Chimpanzees are endangered. There are probably between 172,000 and 300,000 chimpanzees remaining in the wild.
Chimps can be found in about 21 African countries, mostly in central Africa.
Most chimps live in rainforest areas on what used to be the equatorial forest "belt." Sadly, the rain forests in Africa are being cut down, leaving only patches of forest where the belt once stretched continuously.
Another great threat to the continued existence of wild chimpanzees is commercial hunting for meat.