Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are originally from Africa and its four subspecies are distributed across the Midwest of that continent. Fragmentation of the habitat, furtive hunting, illegal trafficking, in addition to other threats, have played a vital role in the reduction of the population. One of the most recent census points to a reduction of 90% in two decades. In 2003, the number of individuals was estimated at between 170 and 300 thousand. For this reason, it has been included in the IUCN’s Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as Threatened Species, i.e., with high risk of becoming extinct in nature.

Belonging to the order of primates and the Pan genus, chimpanzees are part of the great primates taxonomic family that also includes gorillas, orangutans, bonobos and humans. Studies point to chimpanzees being the closest to human beings on the evolutionary scale, together with the bonobos (Pan paniscus) sharing approximately 99% of the DNA and featuring a common ancestor around 4 to 7 million years ago.

similarity to human DNA

Large primates measuring between 75 cm and 95 cm

They have diurnal living habits on the ground and in trees. Their displacement is quadrupedal, that is, using hands and feet simultaneously, however, on occasion, they may use bipedal travel. They are very strong due to their muscular and cerebral anatomies and the semi-arboreal lifestyle. Their diet is basically based on fruit, despite being omnivorous and consuming leaves, flowers, seeds and insects – such as ants, termites and larvae. Sporadically, hunting collectively, they feed on small mammals, including other monkey species such as the Colobus (Colobus badius ssp. Tholloni). Life expectation in captivity is on average of 50 years, but there are reports of chimpanzees living more than 60 years. Living in the wild, life expectation may be equal or even shorter.

They live in highly complex social groups.

They live in groups ranging from five to more than one hundred individuals, with a defined hierarchy – having one or two dominant males. This hierarchy is unstable and may undergo changes, including through the establishment of coalitions among the other males. Females are, usually, submissive to males.

They stand out for their cognitive and logical reasoning skills in dealing with challenges

Chimpanzees experience emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, pleasure, boredom and depression. They stand out for their cognitive and logical reasoning skills in dealing with challenges. They are capable of recognizing their own images in mirrors and learning certain types of languages, like sign language. They have different cultures depending on the region they live in and this is transmitted from one generation to the next. The use of sticks to extract termite from termite hills and stones to break open hard fruit and seeds are some of the teachings shared.

The use of these primates as companions, entertainment artists or even as guinea pigs in research labs is still recurrent and causes a wide range of different and often severe consequences in the individual’s natural development.

Chimpanzees of Anami

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