Chimpanzee

Latin Name
Pan troglodytes

Class
Mammals

Order
Primates

Description

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.


 

Range

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.


Status

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.


Habitat

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


Niche

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

Heart-y Treats for American Heart Month
The chimpanzees enjoyed some heart-shaped enrichment at Regenstein Center for African Apes. It's a prelude to Valentine's Day, sure, but a worthy tribute to American Heart Month as well.


Heavy Snowfall, Great Apes

Snow is used as enrichment for the chimpanzees and gorillas at Lincoln Park Zoo.


The zoo's chimpanzees spent a year trading tokens for treats in a voluntary research project.

Post from the President—Trading Tokens
The zoo's chimpanzees spent a year trading tokens for treats in a voluntary research project. Whether they're taking the easy deal or hoarding for a big haul, these complex apes are showing us how they balance "work" and rewards.

Animal care staff take an EKG reading on chimpanzee Kibali.

Post from the President—Heart to Heart
President and CEO Kevin Bell shares how the zoo monitors the heart health of our chimpanzees with special internal electrocardiogram recorders.

President and CEO Kevin Bell introduces us to the zoo’s newest arrivals, female chimpanzees Cookie and Magadi, who will soon join the off-exhibit group at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Post from the President—Welcoming Two New Chimpanzees
President and CEO Kevin Bell introduces us to the zoo’s newest arrivals, female chimpanzees Cookie and Magadi, who will soon join the off-exhibit group at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

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.

By having chimpanzees trade tokens for treats, zoo scientists can study how the apes learn and respond to different rewards.

Great Ape Economics
By having chimpanzees trade tokens for treats, zoo scientists can study how the apes learn and respond to different rewards.

Vicky examines the ice cakes donated by Nadeau's Ice Sculptures Inc.

Post from the President—A Chimpanzee Celebration
President and CEO Kevin Bell shares highlights from chimpanzee Keo's 55th birthday celebration and Vicky's 50th, explaining why chimpanzees across the country have other reasons to celebrate.

An Array of Apes
Enjoy these portraits of the zoo’s apes, from babies to bachelors.

Type Casting
A blood-type database for chimpanzees and gorillas now provides animal care givers and vets worldwide with a valuable resource, thanks to a compassionate response to the loss of a gorilla at the zoo in 2005.

Chimpanzee Keo upends the John Hancock Center at Regenstein Center for African Apes. (Photo by Susan Andrews)

Animals Eat the Skyline at Chi-Cow-Go
The zoo celebrated Chicago’s 175th birthday with a bovine bash on July 24, 2012. The fun kicked off with the unveiling of a redesigned "Cows on Parade" statue before moving to the rest of the zoo with Chicago-themed animal enrichment. You can also watch a video of the fun!

Hank, Kathy and Nana check out the new chimpanzees across the way.

Chimpanzees Check One Another Out
There were plenty of vocalizations and activity as the chimpanzee groups led by Hank and the late Keo spotted one another across neighboring exhibits in April 2012.

 

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.

Learn about how zoo scientists calculate the life expectancy of Guam Micronesian Kingfishers among many other residents of Lincoln Park Zoo.

How Long Do They Live?
Learn about how zoo scientists calculate the life expectancy of chimpanzees among many other residents of Lincoln Park Zoo.
 

Fond Memories
Take a look back to highlight some of the many animals who have created great memories for zoo visitors and staff alike. 

 


ARKive Media

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

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Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit