Common Name:


Scientific Name:

Pan troglodytes

Taxonomic Classification:

–        Kindom:  Animalia

–        Subkingdom:  Metazoa

–        Phylum:  Chordata

–        Subphylum:  Vertebrata

–        Class:  Mammalia

–        Subclass:  Eurtheria

–        Order:  Primates

–        Suborder:  Anthropoidea

–        Family:  Pongidae

–        Subfamily:  Homininae

Physical Description:

Chimpanzees have a compact and muscular build with generally black hair, although it may grey with age. They are only slightly sexually dimorphic. Males are quite larger than females with males weighing 80-130lbs and females weighing 70-100lbs. Their forelimbs are much longer than their hind limbs. However, their thumbs are shorter and grasping ability is impaired compared to humans. Chimpanzees use knuckle-walking to get around, but they can also be bipedal and branchiate through trees. They also have highly acute color vision.

Geographic Location and Range:

Across Africa, from Senegal to Tanzania, including the Ivory Coast, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Congo Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their habitats range from primary and secondary forests to grass lands and woodland savannas.


Chimpanzees are omnivores. They eat fruit, leaves, seeds, bark, bird eggs, small monkeys, pigs, termites, and ants. Over half of their diet is made up of fruit and less than 2% is meat.

Social Organization:

Communities, or flexible groups, tend to be composed of six to ten chimpanzees.  Adult males assert dominance over the more prevalent females and adolescent males by using screams and stomps.  Females mate with many males.


Chimpanzees don’t have a mating season; they mate whenever the females are in estrus, which last 10 days. Their gestation period lasts 225 days and usually there is only one infant born at a time. The infant is weaned between 2 and 4 years or until the mother is pregnant again. Females have children every 3-5 years. Males reach maturity around 7-8 years and females reach maturity around 6-10 years.

Parental Care:

The mother infant bond is important to understanding intelligence and the possibility of altruistic behavior.  Infants ride on the mother’s backs from ages 6 months to 2 years; mothers spend most of their time with their offspring and other females.  Chimpanzees wean at age 5, and then are considered adults at age 16 for males, although females begin reproducing at age 13.


Chimpanzees are the noisiest ape, using over a dozen different noises to communicate to each other including; grunts, hoots, screeches, and whimpers. They also use a variety of gestures and facial expressions to keep in touch with each other. Each chimpanzee also develops their own language with their mother, but that language is lost when they become an adult because they will never form another one-on-one personal bond.

Evidence of Culture:

Each troop has its own culture, because they employ different devices for the same purposes and have different meanings for the same calls. Some troops use tools and some do not. Chimpanzees of the Budongo Forest use leaf sponges (absorbant tools created from chewed leaves) to get honey, while chimpanzees of the Kibale Forest use sticks to get to honey although they use leaf sponges for other purposes.

More Interesting Facts:

Chimpanzees are our closest living relative in the animal world.

Chimpanzees can be taught to use some sign language and can then use sign language to communicate to each other, humans, and even teach it to other chimpanzees.

They do practice cannibalism and infanticide, but it is not the norm. They usually only eat other chimps if they’re not part of their community. Infants are only killed-and occasionally eaten-if one of the females goes crazy (because of such factors as she is not producing her own offspring) or the male does not believe it to be his.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. Her 45-year study of the chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania revolutionized the field of primatology.

There are actually four subspecies of what we call the Common chimpanzee: the Western or Masked chimpanzee, the Black-faced chimpanzee, the Long-haired chimpanzee, and one which has not been given a common name.


Magill’s Encyclopedia of Science, Animal Life Volume 1, p. 201-204

Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia, volume 14, Second Edition (journal)

chimpanzee.The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. 24 Sep. 2010 <>.

“Chimpanzees.” Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals. 1990.

Cawthon Lang KA. “Primate Factsheets: Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Behavior.” Primate. 13 April 2006. 26 September 2010.

“Chimpanzee.” Rolling Hills Wildlife. 2005. 26 September 2010.


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One Response to Chimpanzees

  1. Megan M. says:

    wait – Chimpanzees eat PIGS?! If that’s true, that’s a great story – where’d you read that?

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