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Chimpanzees: Facts and Information

Updated on February 15, 2021

They are termed, second to human beings, as the most intelligent animals in the world.

These animals are commonly found in Central and West Africa. Their habitats vary and include woodlands, tropical rain forests and grasslands regions.

A chimpanzee’s life span in the wild is 45 years. If held under captivity, it’s life span exceeds those in the wild as it can live up to 60 years.

The most remarkable thing about chimpanzees is the ability to use various tools for different activities. In addition, another outstanding thing about chimps is they can learn human sign language which makes it easy for humans to communicate with them. It is no wonder they remember the sign name of people they have not seen for a long time.

Chimps playing a waiting game
Chimps playing a waiting game | Source

They can walk on their two legs for more than one kilometer. Their legs are shorter compared to their arms. The length of their body from the neck to the waist is small and is covered with black hair. The only exception is fingers, toes, the bottom of their feet, palms and armpits. Their face is hairless. Both the male and the female adults have beard which is short and white in color. Some females may lack beard.

Chimpanzees are omnivorous, meaning their diet consists of meat and plants. Their food menu include: insects, leaves, fruits, seeds, eggs, nuts and flowers. They do hunt animals which are smaller than them such as antelopes. Also, they can be cannibalistic as they are known to eat young monkeys.

Male and baby
Male and baby | Source

As indicated above, they are good at using various tools for different activities. One of the tools they use is a twig or a stick. Well, they are not grandpas and grandmas who need sticks for support. They use these tools to chase away intruders. The twig also plays another role. It is placed by a chimp at the nest of termites and ants. The chimp waits. It waits for these tiny creatures to walk on the twig. From there it licks the twig with its tongue, and there the chimp has its lunch. Not bad, I can say.

In terms of height and size, the males exceed the females. A female weighs between 26-50kg at a height of 2-3.5ft. In the case of a male, it weighs 35-70kg at a height of 3-4ft.

During the early life of the chimpanzee, it is carried on the front – under the belly – for the first five months. At the age of 6 months it is carried on the mother’s back for two years. Once the weaning period is over, which lasts 3-5 years, the young chimp begins the job of building its own nest. It has been living with its mother, now is the time to live on its own, that is, a place for a good night sleep – a bed for the night. The nest is made of vegetation. Nevertheless, the chimp will continue to stay with its mother for another 7 years.

Chimpanzees are social animals. Like humans, they do have extended family of which they cherish a lot. An aunty will be seen taking care of her sister’s young one. For the oldies, they will also be seen taking care of their grandchildren. Yah, they do love their grandchildren very much. The older siblings also take care of their younger siblings.

The female chimpanzees reach reproductive age at at an earlier period than males. Females reach maturity age at 13 years while males mature at the age of 16. Adolescence in chimpanzees begin at the age of nine, way too earlier than humans. By the time the female reaches 9 years, she is fertile. She can become a mother at any time. Not really! It’s until they are 13-14 years they can begin reproducing. The infants are nursed and taken care of by their mothers for five years. This explains why a female chimpanzee gives birth once per five years to one infant – rarely twins.

There have been a few cases of human babies born with teeth. When it comes to chimpanzees, the story is different. The female chimpanzee’s babies are born with teeth. The teeth of a baby chimpanzee begins to grow before birth. Scientists estimate the age of a chimpanzee by looking at the lines of their teeth.

Well, chimpanzees are romantic animals. They have been observed kissing each other. I mean a male and female chimpanzee kissing each other. They also do hold hands together as an expression of love and when they are nervous.

 Two young chimpanzee playing
Two young chimpanzee playing | Source

Chimps communicate with their fellow chimps through facial expressions, signs and use of different sounds. When they smile, everything is alright and they must be in love with themselves. I mean, they are in good mood. However, when the chimps lips are pressed together, get ready to make a run for your life. They’re not in good mood. They use different sounds to signify danger, attack or there is a big meal they should enjoy together. When a chimp approaches other chimps with open hands, it signifies it is asking to be given some food. It is hungry, can’t die of hunger while its members are having a meal, maybe of a lifetime.

During the day, if they are not searching for food they are busy grooming themselves, their lovers, their children, a relative or anyone in the group. In this scenario, they're not different from cats.

They enjoy and like playing. They can be seen swinging from one tree to another tree. Since they are social, groups are formed which consist of about 30 members or more headed by an alpha male. There can be sub-groups which consists of 6-7 chimps but these sub-groups don’t survive or membership keeps changing, that is, members don’t stay for long in one sub-group.

Chimpanzees are nearing extinction due to their being hunted by humans and felling of trees which endangers their habitat.

It should be noted chimpanzees are not monkeys. Though they look alike they are different. One way of differentiating them is by looking at their tails. Chimps don’t have tails while monkeys do have.


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