Western Chimpanzee

Scientific Name: Pan troglodytes
Irish Name: Simpeansaí
IUCN Status: Endangered

Chimpanzees are human’s closest living relative, sharing over 98% of the same DNA to us. This great ape is similar in size to a human being with a sturdy body, short legs, long arms and a coat of black hair.

Western Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees are human’s closest living relative, sharing over 98% of the same DNA to us. This great ape is similar in size to a human being with a sturdy body, short legs, long arms and a coat of black hair.

General Information

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

Moist lowland tropical forests and swamp forests in Western equatorial Africa. They build nests of branches and leaves in trees to sleep in.

How long do they live?

Up to 40 years in the wild, up to 60 years in zoos.

What do they eat?

Chimps are omnivores, but they particularly like fruits, berries, leaves and insects

Group name

Community

Zoo location

The chimpanzees are located in the African Plains, beside the Gorilla Rainforest.

Closest related species / sister species

The western chimpanzees closest relative is the bonobo.

Animal class

Mammalia

Animal order

Primates

Fun facts

Our closest living relatives

Chimpanzees share 98.4 per cent of their genetic material with humans and they are our closest living relative.

Tools

They use tools, such as sticks to retrieve termites from their mounts, stones to open nuts and leaves to scoop up drinking water

Pharmacists

Zoopharmacognosy is the name given to animals who know which plants in their natural environment to ingest in order to make them feel better. Chimpanzees select and eat the bitter pith of the Vernonia plant. Their grimaces show they are not enjoying the experience but the pith contains certain compounds that have been shown to be effective against parasites including malaria.

Bottom's up!

Presenting your bottom to another chimp is a sign of respect! It shows them that you know they’re boss.

Don't smile...

Chimps use facial expressions to show emotions ... but don’t smile showing all your teeth to a chimpanzee – it will think you’re frightened!

Reflections

Chimpanzees are one of the few species that can recognise themselves in a mirror. Other animals often get confused and think their reflection is another animals but not chimps.

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Family Life

Chimps live in highly hierarchical groups with a dominant male. They can communicate with a range of vocalisations and facial expressions, and maintain friendships by grooming each other. They build nests of branches and leaves in trees to sleep in.

Baby name

Infant

Gestation (pregnancy) period

6 to 8 months

Number of young at birth

1

Weight at birth

2kg

Age at maturity

Females reach maturity at 13 years and males at 15. When a female is ready to mate the skin around her bottom swells up and turns pink.

Adult male name

Male

Adult female name

Female

Size male adult

Males can be up to 1.7m tall and 70kg.

Size female adult

Females are slightly smaller than males and typically weighing up to 50kg.

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Conservation

IUCN status

The western chimpanzee is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation in Nature.

Current population estimate

53,000 as of 2019

Threats

Poaching for bushmeat and the illegal pet trade; logging and mining is destroying their habitat and also makes previously remote areas more accessible to hunters and traffickers; disease is also a problem and chimps are susceptible to the Ebola virus; climate change is potentially affecting their moist habitats and could have an impact on the fruit trees that they rely on for food.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

Since 2009, Dublin Zoo has worked with the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone which rehabilitates rescued chimps and is involved with community outreach programmes, wildlife monitoring and responsible tourism. Dublin Zoo also participates in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme for Chimpanzees.

Wild Behaviour at Dublin Zoo
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Chimpanzee Conservation

See what Dublin Zoo is doing to help chimpanzees in the wild
Find out more

FAQs

  • What do chimpanzees eat?

    Chimps are omnivores, but they particularly like fruits, berries, leaves and insects.

  • Are chimpanzees endangered?

    Yes, chimpanzees are listed as endangered by the IUCN.

  • Are chimpanzees hominids?

    Chimpanzees are primates and like all great apes they belong to the Hominidae family.

  • When did chimpanzees first appear?

    Chimpanzees and humans split genetically ca. 4-8 million years ago. Therefore, chimps are not the ancestors of humans, but instead they have a common ancestor and are closely related.

  • Where chimpanzees live?

    Moist lowland tropical forests and swamp forests in Western equatorial Africa; currently found in 21 countries.

  • What are chimps predators?

    Chimps are mainly hunted by humans and also by lions and leopards

  • When did chimpanzees become endangered?

    The IUCN listed chimps as vulnerable in 1988 and changed their status to endangered in 1996.

  • When were chimpanzees first discovered?

    The name “chimpanzee” was first recorded in 1738. However, a Dutch anatomist applied the name for orangutan to either a chimpanzee or bonobo in 1641.

  • Where does a chimpanzee live in the rainforest?

    Chimpanzees divide their time between the ground, where they walk on all fours (knuckle-walking), but can also stand and walk upright, and they also spend time in the trees, mainly for eating and they build tree nests for sleeping in.

  • Who dominates chimpanzee social groups?

    A chimp community is dominated by an alpha male. The females also have an hierarchichal order which can be hereditary.

  • Why are chimpanzees so smart?

    A chimpanzees intelligence is partly due to its genes, and partly to their environment. Theories about why primates developed larger brains attribute this to having to deal with complex social structures or having to exploit a variety of food sources.

  • Why chimpanzee endangered?

    Poaching for bushmeat and the illegal pet trade; logging and mining is destroying their habitat and also makes previously remote areas more accessible to hunters and traffickers; disease is also a problem and chimps are susceptible to the Ebola virus; climate change is potentially affecting their moist habitats and could have an impact on the fruit trees that they rely on for food.

  • Why is a chimpanzee not a monkey?

    Monkeys and apes are both primates, but the main difference is that most monkeys have tails but apes do not.

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