Fast Facts

10 Things to Know About Chimpanzees

  1. Chimpanzees are one of our closest living relatives. In fact, humans and chimpanzees share 95 to 98 percent of the same DNA!
  2. 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.
  3. Chimpanzees develop lifelong family bonds, particularly between mother and child. Mothers and dependent young (up to age seven or so) are always together.  
  4. Chimpanzees can currently be found in 21 African countries. The greatest concentration of chimpanzees is in the rain forests of what used to be the equatorial forest “belt.”
  5. Chimpanzees are omnivores, which means they eat fruits, nuts, seeds, blossoms and leaves, as well as many kinds of insects and occasionally medium-sized animals.
  6. Chimpanzees communicate in many ways, most notably through sounds and calls. They also communicate with each other through touch, facial expressions and body language.
  7. Chimpanzees are knuckle walkers, which means they walk on all fours using their knuckles for support when they are on the ground or even when they are up in trees.
  8. Chimpanzee habitat is rapidly disappearing as human activity increases in the areas where chimpanzees live. Some of the causes for habitat loss include the conversion of land into agriculture, competition for natural resources such as firewood, commercial logging and mining.
  9. Chimpanzees can catch and be infected with a number of human diseases.
  10. Chimpanzees are endangered. At the turn of the 20th century, they numbered between 1 and 2 million. Now there are estimated to be fewer than 300,000 chimpanzees remaining in the wild. Help us save them.

10 Fun Facts About Chimpanzees

  1. In captivity, chimpanzees can be taught human sign languages such as ASL (American Sign Language).
  2. Scientists have only recently been able to determine chimpanzee paternity through analyzing DNA in chimpanzee scat (also known as poop).
  3. Chimpanzees sometimes get bored and will make up games to amuse themselves. Watch the video below to see one Gombe chimpanzee who is known for making up games.

    Titan from the Jane Goodall Institute on Vimeo.

  4. Chimpanzees communicate physically in ways similar to humans—by kissing, embracing, patting on the back, touching hands, tickling, etc. And they even laugh when they play!

  5. Chimpanzees have opposable thumbs and big toes, which enable them to have a precision grip on just about anything.
  6. Each night, chimpanzees make “nests” to sleep in and they never sleep in the same nest twice. The nests are made out of leaves, branches and other materials. Sometimes they even make a pillow out of the softest leaves. Watch the video below to see how chimpanzees make their nests.

    Nesting from the Jane Goodall Institute on Vimeo.

  7. Infant chimpanzees have a white tail tuft that disappears by early adulthood.
  8. As a rite of passage, almost every young chimpanzee gets lost from his or her mother at some point during exploration. Watch the video below to learn more about this.

    Lost from the Jane Goodall Institute on Vimeo.

  9. Some chimpanzees, like Golden and Glitter, have Facebook pages. Golden and Glitter are the oldest known set of chimpanzee twins. (To be honest, they do have some human help with their Facebook postings!)

  10. Chimpanzees aren’t always graceful. Watch the video below to see some chimpanzee outtakes from Gombe National Park in Tanzania.

    Chimpanzee Outtakes from the Jane Goodall Institute on Vimeo.




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