Introduction

The endangered chimpanzee, one of five species of great ape, inhabits the tropical savannas and forests of central and west Africa. It is threatened by the activities of another great ape, one of its closest relatives in the animal kingdom, with whom it shares 98.7% of its DNA – humans.

Chimpanzee Facts

    01
    Habitat

    Chimps keep a mental map of their environment, allowing them to repeatedly find many varieties of fruits and plants. 

    They are classed as omnivorous, and occasionally prey upon small to medium sized animals, such as monkeys and antelope, with meat making up around 2% of their diet.

  • 01
    Habitat

    Like humans, chimps are highly adaptable, and have been observed in diverse habitats such as dry savanna, evergreen, montane and swamp forests, and dry woodland-savanna. Forest chimps spend most of the day in the treetop canopies feeding and searching for food.

  • 02
    Behavior

    Like humans, chimps are highly communicative. Facial expressions, gestures, postures and calls all help to convey feelings and intentions. To assert their position, top males regularly engage in displays of aggression, but chimps are capable of expressing a range of other complex emotions – a sign of their intelligence, along with their use of tools.

    They supplement their diets with very small servings of insects, such as ants and termites.

  • 02
    Behavior

    Wild chimpanzees live in “communities” of between twenty and 150 individuals, organised in complicated social hierarchies. Grooming rituals, used to remove ticks and maintain cleanliness, help to strengthen social bonds between group members. Half of individuals remain with their community for life, while the female half tend to migrate between groups. 

  • 03
    Physical Characteristics

    Chimps weigh as much as 50kg, less than the average human, yet are around 1.5 times stronger. They are larger than bonobos, their closest relative, but smaller than gorillas. Large ears, a protruding mouth and prominent brow are other distinctive features.

     

    Sharp canine teeth for hunting are only found in mature males.

  • 03
    Physical Characteristics

    Chimpanzees are covered in coarse hair, which is typically black but can be ginger or brown. Their human-like faces are bare, as are their fingers, toes, palms and soles. Chimps also lose hair as they age, leading to bald sports across the body.

Our Closest Cousin Threatened by Extinction

Chimpanzees are almost universally loved across the globe for their social nature, intelligence and similarity to humans. Yet, along with poaching and disease, it is the demands of human society which threaten them most.

Chimp Rescue

Baby chimps are still sold as pets for private and illegal zoos. Thanks to Virunga’s Rangers, Tongo was rescued from animal traffickers who had killed his family for bushmeat. An average of ten family members is killed when poachers steal a baby chimpanzee.

Tongo was taken to Lwiro Primates, a chimpanzee sanctuary, where he will join around 100 other rescued chimps.