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Chimpanzees - Pan troglodytes

Updated on February 21, 2013


Scientific Name: - Pan troglodytes

Class: - Mammalia

Order: - Primates

Family: - Hominidae

Genus: - Pan

Species: - troglodytes

Physical description:- Chimpanzees have black hair all over their bodies except on their face, ears, and palms of the hands and soles of the feet. In areas where there is no hair, the skin is pinkish to black in color. Young have very pale skin and a white-colored tail tuft that disappears by early adulthood.

Adult males are slightly larger than females, and in the Gombe region of Africa, weigh about 40-52 kilograms (90-115 pounds) and stand 1.2 meters (4 feet) when upright. They also have long arms and short legs that give the chimp a quadrupedal gait. Chimpanzees from different areas may be larger.

Habitat: - Chimpanzees inhabit lowland and montane tropical rainforest, and tropical savannah woodland.

Habits: - Chimpanzees live in groups of thirty to eighty. They are always in the process of changing composition. To obtain food, the chimps break up into small groups of about five or six. These groups vary from being all male. Females and children to a mixed party of both males and females. They keep in touch with one another by calling each other with a barking noise. Chimpanzees are very unselfish. When they find food they share with the other begging chimps.

Behavior: - Because chimpanzees are so closely related to humans, and because they show such intelligence, they have been the focus of many behavioral investigations, both in captivity and in the wild. Over the years, a tremendous wealth of information on the behaviors and social relationships of these animals has been collected. What follows is intended to give the reader an overview of chimpanzee behavior. Necessarily, this account is not exhaustive, nor is all aspects of chimpanzee behavior discussed. Also, please note that discussions of behavior related to reproduction and feeding are found in other sections of this species account.

Chimpanzees are social, diurnal animals. They travel from place to place mainly on the ground, using a form of quadrupedal walking in which the weight is borne on the knuckles. Although they travel on the ground, chimpanzees spend considerable amounts of time in the trees. They feed on fruits while sitting in trees, and arboreal sites are always chosen for resting in night and day nests. Nests are constructed from plant material in trees, and may contain branches from several small trees. Although mothers share their nests with their unweaned offspring, all other juveniles and adults make separate nests in which to sleep. Nests are constructed nightly, and may contain a bottom platform or mattress, as well as a cover.

Chimpanzees are not strictly territorial. Instead, groups occupy a home range, which males and females use differently. Males typically travel farther during a given day than do females (males travel and average of 4.9 km/day versus 3.0 km/day for females). They also range more widely, often visiting the boundaries of the home range. Females, on the other hand, have a core area within the home range in which they spend most of their anestrous time. Females in estrus, though, may range as far as males, as they are likely at this time to travel in mixed sex parties. The exact distance traveled by chimps in a day, a week, or a year, may vary based on food availability, hostile neighboring group proximity, groups size, etc.

Chimpanzees are highly social, and are able to discriminate easily between other individuals. Their memories are long, and chimpanzees who have been taught sign language not only remember individuals they have not seen in years, but also remember the name sign for these individuals. It is likely that such long social memories play an important role in chimpanzee society in natural settings.

Diet: - Chimpanzees feed on fruits, leaves and other plant parts, as well as insects, honey and occasionally meat and eggs. Birds; mammals; reptiles; insects. Leaves; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; flowers; sap or other plant fluids.

Breeding: - All of the males in a chimpanzee group will try to mate with each female. Therefore the father is not known. Chimpanzee mothers give birth to a single infant once every three to five years. The female's chimp's ovulation coincides with a week to ten-day period when she is sexually receptive to the male. This condition is known as estrus. Estrus is accompanied by a large pink swelling on the females behind that indicates she is ready to mate.

Females give birth to one baby (rarely twins) every five or six years after a gestation period of 202 - 261 days. Young are weaned at about four years of age but remain dependent on the mother until about ten. Males reach sexual maturity between twelve and thirteen years but are not socially mature until a few years later. They will still mate, however, as lower ranking males as well as the dominant male can mate with a sexually receptive female.

Because multiple young of different ages may be traveling with their mother at any time, bonds between siblings are also strong. These bonds may remain strong during adulthood, and brothers are frequent allies in intragroup intrigues. Older siblings frequently help to carry infants and play with infants. If the mother should die, older siblings will often assume the care of their immature, weaned siblings.

Chimpanzees live about 50 years in the wild

Predators: - Chimpanzees are hunted as food by humans in many parts of their range. Other are leopard's, pythons and martial eagles.

Disease: - A variety of ailments trouble chimpanzees in natural habitats, and affect survivorship and longevity. Respiratory diseases, such as colds and coughs, seem prevalent during the rainy season. Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea, peritonitis, and enteritis have been seen and can be lethal, especially in young or very old chimps. Skin ulcers and osteoarthritis have affected some chimpanzees. One chimpanzee at Gombe had a goiter. Abscesses of various sorts have been seen, as have rashes, fungal diseases, and parasitic infections. Even human diseases may sometimes affect wild chimpanzees. A polio epidemic in local human populations devastated the chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park in 1966, killing some and leaving many chimpanzees partially paralyzed.

In addition to disease, injuries are an important source of infections and can lead to mortality in chimpanzees. Injuries may be sustained during falls, or as a result of aggressive interactions within groups or among neighboring groups.

Importance: - Chimpanzees, being among our closest living relatives, are of tremendous importance in medical research. They are also heavily used in studies of behavior, both in captivity and in the wild. They are the focus of valuable ecotourism enterprises and are popular in zoos. Finally, there is some illegal pet trade in chimpanzees and they are hunted for bushmeat.

Dangerous: - Chimpanzees have been known to prey upon young humans when the opportunity arises, although the propensity for this behavior is closely related to the presence of waste from human beer-making facilities. Chimpanzees eat these attractive, fermented leavings and become intoxicated, making them more likely to become aggressive. When frightened or aggressive chimpanzees can be dangerous, even to adult humans. In addition, because of their biological similarity to humans, they may serve as a reservoir or host for diseases that affect humans.

Distribution: - Chimpanzees are extinct in numerous countries and the greatly reduced distribution now covers a wide but discontinuous area of equatorial Africa. Today, four subspecies of chimpanzee are recognized.

Chimpanzees inhabit the tropical forests of central Africa. They are distributed from about 10 degrees N to 8 degrees S, and from 15 degrees W to 32 degrees E. They are found from Gambia in the west to Uganda in the east, excluding the region bordered by the Congo and Lualaba rivers in central Zaire (Congo) where their sister species, bonobos are distributed

Status of the Species: - Chimpanzees are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Threats to the Species: - Chimpanzees are threatened by deforestation and habitat loss due to logging, mining, farming and other development. In parts of the west, only small tracts of intact rainforest remain after logging, leaving subpopulations small and highly fragmented. Construction of roads has led to increased access to animals for the commercial bushmeat trade.

'Bushmeat' has always been a primary source of dietary protein in Central and West African countries. However in recent years, hunting for bushmeat, once a subsistence activity, has become heavily commercialized and much of the meat goes to urban residents who can afford to pay premium prices for it.

The effect of the bushmeat trade on chimp populations has yet to be evaluated, but a study in Congo showed that offtake was 5-7%, surpassing annual population increase. In addition, apes are often injured or killed in snares set for other animals. Infant chimpanzees are frequently taken alive and sold in the cities as pets.

Many conservationists believe that the bushmeat trade is now the greatest threat to forest biodiversity in West and Central Africa.

International Trade:

Listed on Appendix I of CITES which prohibits international trade.

Author and Sources:

CITES. 2001.

The Jane Goodall Institute. 2001. Chimpanzees.

In Memory of Jim Cronin

Monkey World boss Jim Cronin dies.

Jim Cronin, the founder of Monkey World ape rescue centre, has died aged 55.

On March 17, 2007 Mr Cronin died in hospital in New York after a short illness.

Monkey World, near Wool in Dorset, was set up in 1987 to provide abused Spanish beach chimps with a permanent home. For past 10 years, the Cronins produced the TV series "Monkey Business," which documented day-to-day life at the park. The program airs on Animal Planet

Monkey World was awarded the Animal Welfare Award by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare in 2003. In 2006 Cronin was appointed MBE in the New Year's Honours, but he died before he could collect the medal.

This page is dedicated in the memory of a wonderful human being.


This is indeed a sad loss to the animal world I send my heartfelt condolences to Alison and all of Jim's family and friends, may God give you strength during this dark and difficult time of loss.

You will be sadly missed by all who shared your passion for your beloved Chimpanzee's

Annalene - South-Africa

Chimpanzees - Pan troglodytes


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    6 years ago

    do a monkey live up or down in the trees

  • Annalene profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from Richards bay South-Africa

    My lips are sealed, but I must say you look a little exhausted there, hope you are looking a bit more perky after the shave!

  • waynet profile image

    Wayne Tully 

    11 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

    Hey there's some great monkey pics here!!

    keep up the great work and I look forward to more monkey business!!

    as for that monkey sucking my nipple, don't tell anyone!! I don't think anyone will notice the picture and plus I've shaved since...not as hairy!!

  • Annalene profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from Richards bay South-Africa

    Thanks Mary and Aphroditei, he was an extraordinary man!

  • Aphroditei profile image


    11 years ago

    My sincere condolences for Jim Cronin's family. He is a great lost for the animal world indeed.

    Great article too Annie! (^^,)

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    I am sad to hear bout Jim Cronin's death,he will be missed.

  • Annalene profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from Richards bay South-Africa

    Thank you tshirtscene you are right he was a miracle, and thank you Michelle, he was indeed an extraordinary man, with his commitment and unconditional love for his chimps!

  • profile image

    Michelle du Plessis - UK 

    11 years ago

    This is with out a doubt a very sad time. Jim seemed to be an extraordinary man who had unconditional love for his chimps. It was always a pleasure to watch him talk about his much love and commitment.

    He will be missed.

  • tshirtscene profile image


    11 years ago

    It's always so very sad when you hear of the abuse of our wild life, the outstanding work of people such as Jon Cronin is nothing short of a miracles.

  • Annalene profile imageAUTHOR


    11 years ago from Richards bay South-Africa

    Thank you all very much! I really appreciate your support, and thank you for the kind words, regarding Jim Cronin. A very sad day for humankind and a HUGE loss for his beloved Chimps, especially for on of his favorites Kuki. They will miss him and so will we.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    go for it

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Another great post. It is sad about Jim Cronin.

    Keep up all the good work.

  • profile image

    Joep de Moel 

    11 years ago

    I was saddened to hear the news about the death of, Jim Cronin. Remember that "Those who live in the hearts of others never die."

    Joep de Moel - South-Africa


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