Chimpanzees are a genus of great apes. They belong to mammals and are the closest relatives of humans. In nature, they live only in the middle of Africa. There they live in the rainforest and in the savannah.
There are two types of chimpanzees: The “common chimpanzee” is often simply called “chimpanzee”. The other species is the bonobo, also known as the “pygmy chimpanzee”. However, it is almost the same size as the common chimpanzee but only lives in tropical rainforests.
Chimpanzees are about a meter long from head to bottom. When standing, they are about the size of a small human. The females reach 25 to 50 kilograms, the males about 35 to 70 kilograms. Your arms are longer than your legs. They have round ears on their heads and thick bone ridges over their eyes.
Chimpanzees are critically endangered. The main reason: people are taking more and more habitats away from them by clearing the jungle and planting plantations. Researchers, poachers, and tourists are infecting more and more chimpanzees with diseases. This can cost chimpanzees their lives.
How do chimpanzees live?
Chimpanzees mostly forage in trees, but also on the ground. They actually eat everything, but mostly fruits and nuts. But leaves, flowers, and seeds are also on their menu. There are also insects and small mammals such as bats, but also other monkeys.
Chimpanzees are good at climbing around trees. On the ground, they walk on their feet and hands. However, they are not supported on the whole hand, but only on the second and third fingers. For us humans, that would be the index finger and the middle finger.
Chimpanzees are awake during the day and sleep at night, much like humans. For each night they build a new nest of leaves on a tree. They can’t swim. The common chimpanzee uses tools: pieces of wood as hammers or sticks for digging or to get termites out of their burrows.
Chimpanzees are social animals. They live in large groups or are split into small groups. In the case of the common chimpanzee, a male is usually the boss, in the case of the bonobos, it is usually a female. All chimpanzees groom each other’s fur by picking insects and other small animals from each other.
How do chimpanzees reproduce?
Chimpanzees can mate all year round. Similar to females, females menstruate every five to six weeks. Pregnancy lasts seven to eight months. That’s how long a mother carries her cub in her stomach. She usually only gives birth to one cub at a time. There are very few twins.
A baby chimpanzee weighs about one to two kilograms. It then drinks milk from its mother’s breasts for about four to five years. But then it stays with the mother for a longer time.
Chimpanzees have to be around seven to nine years old before they can have their own offspring. In the group, however, they have to wait. Common chimpanzees are about 13 to 16 years old before they become parents themselves. In the wild, chimpanzees live up to 30 to 40 years, and in a zoo usually around 50 years.