Chimpanzee Facts



  • Chimps have a strict social ladder, with dominant males at the top. These top males recognize property rights, and never steal food from their inferiors.
  • Observers have noted chimpanzees carefully lifting a fellow chimp’s eyelid to remove a speck of grit.
  • Chimps are the best tool-users after humans. They use grass stems to fish for termites in their mounds, stones and anvils to crack nuts, and chewed leaves as sponges for gathering water.
  • Chimpanzees actively hunt for meat, especially when plant food is scarce, and collaborate to catch colobus monkeys, young baboons, birds and rodents.
  • Grooming is a very important activity amongst chimps. It helps to create strong bonds between individuals, and to establish the group’s pecking order.
  • If a chimpanzee finds a tree laden with fruit, it drums on a tree trunk and makes loud panting cries to summon other chimps from many kilometres away for a share of the feast.
  • Bands of male chimpanzees have been observed attacking and killing all the males in a neighbouring band. Up to a third of adult male chimp deaths result from territorial disputes.
  • Bonobos, or pygmy chimpanzees, are found in the dense forests along the Congo River. They are darker than other chimps, with longer legs and smaller heads, and walk upright more often.
  • Chimpanzees reach puberty at about 10 years, give birth every 4 or 5 years, and may live into their 50s.
  • Chimpanzees have a repertoire of up to 30 distinct noises for communicating with other members of their social group.
  • A bonobo named Kanzi, a very successful participant in language experiments, also learned how to light a barbecue and cook his own sausages.
  • Chimps eat a range of plants as medicines, to combat problems such as stomach aches and parasitic worms