Latin Name
Pan troglodytes




Chimpanzees can reach up to 4 feet in height and weigh as much as 175 pounds, with males being larger than females. The great apes' coats are largely black, although they can vary greatly among individuals, with some having more reddish-brown fur. Each face is unique, as in humans, with different colors, hairlines and amounts of facial hair. Young individuals have a tuft of white hair on their rump that signifies their immature status.



Chimpanzees are found across equatorial Africa, from Senegal to Uganda. Lincoln Park Zoo scientists conduct conservation and research projects with chimpanzee populations in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park, the site of Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking research, and the Republic of Congo’s Goualougo Triangle.


Chimpanzees are endangered in the wild due to habitat loss and hunting. Research by scientists in the zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes has shown that people are less likely to identify chimpanzees as endangered, versus other great ape species, due to their use in entertainment. For this reason, as well as concerns about well-being, Lincoln Park Zoo opposes the use of chimpanzees in entertainment.

Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


Chimpanzees occupy various habitats, including rain forest, mountain forest, woodlands and open savanna.


Chimpanzees are omnivorous, feeding regularly on fruits, stems, insects, small animals and other food items they can find in their habitats. Chimpanzees will also hunt larger prey, such as pigs, baboons and other primates. They have famously been observed using tools in the wild to gather food, most commonly thin sticks that are used to “fish” termites from their mounds. Regenstein Center for African Apes has an artificial termite mound that is used to study tool-use (and also provide enrichment for the resident chimpanzees.)

Life History

Chimpanzees live in “fusion-fission” societies: large groups of animals commonly splinter into smaller pairings and then re-gather. Males in a group establish a dominance hierarchy that influences breeding, but mating is fluid. Females have a fertility cycle lasting roughly 36 days, and both males and females will breed with a variety of partners. Offspring are dependent on their mothers for a period of up to six years. Even after becoming mature at 10-13 years of age, many chimpanzees maintain close relationships with their mothers. Female chimpanzees generally migrate into new groups at adolescence while males stay with their birth group. Males typically do not play a role in the parenting process.

Special Adaptations
  • Chimpanzee tool-use, behavior and cognition are studied at the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes. Scientists use behavior and health monitoring and voluntary tool-use and computer touch-screen sessions to better understand chimpanzees.
  • Long fingers and an opposable thumb allow for object manipulation. The big toe is also opposable for grasping.

Bonus Content

How did Lincoln Park Zoo push for all chimpanzees to receive the endangered species protections they deserve? Find out in this Q&A with scientist Steve Ross!

Seven Questions About Saving Chimpanzees
How did Lincoln Park Zoo push for all chimpanzees to receive the endangered species protections they deserve? Find out in this Q&A with scientist Steve Ross!

Trees for Chimpanzees
Regenstein Center for African Apes keeper Leslie Lurz traveled to Uganda in July 2014 to participate in a wild chimpanzee-related field study. She shares the experience in words and photos.

Chimpanzee Keo was a longtime--and beloved--Lincoln Park Zoo resident.

Post from the President—Remembering Keo
President and CEO Kevin Bell bids farewell to one of Lincoln Park Zoo's oldest friends as chimpanzee Keo, the oldest male chimpanzee in a North American zoo at 55, was humanely euthanized.

Chimps Should Be Chimps
Produced by Lincoln Park Zoo's Project ChimpCARE, this free, interactive iPad children's book shares how chimps should be free to be themselves, from chimp head to chimp toe!

Chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo's Goualougo Triangle

Protecting a Refuge for Great Apes
By adding the Goualougo Triangle to the national park system, the Republic of Congo has ensured this pristine landscape will remain untouched.


ARKive Media

ARKive image - Eastern chimpanzee infantARKive video - Central chimpanzee - overviewARKive video - Central chimpanzee feeding, exhibiting tool use

ARKive is creating the ultimate multimedia guide to the world's endangered species.
Visit ARKive for thousands more films, photos and fact-files!

Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit