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Taxonomy (SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION)
CLASS: Mammalia (Mammals)
ORDER: Primates (The most developed and intelligent group of mammals that includes lemurs, lorises, monkeys, apes, and humans.)
FAMILY: Hominidae (Great Apes- orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans)
GENUS/ SPECIES: Pan troglodytes
Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee- Pan troglodytes ssp. Ellioti
Eastern Chimpanzee- Pan troglodytes ssp. Schweinfurthii
Central Chimpanzee-Pan troglodytes ssp. Troglodytes
Western Chimpanzee- Pan troglodytes ssp. verus
LIFE SPAN: Chimpanzees can live up to 30 years or more in the wild, and for as long as 75 years in captivity.
HABITAT: Chimps live in the tropical forests and woodland savannahs of West and Central Africa. Today, the populations of this great ape are fragmented. The largest groups of Chimpanzees are found in Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.
DIET: Chimpanzees are omnivores (eat both meat and vegetation). These great apes eat a large variety of fruits and leaves, as well as insects, bark, eggs, and nuts. Chimps even hunt monkeys and other small animals for meat. Chimps are not picky eaters, and certain groups of these great apes are known to eat over 200 different kinds of foods!
Additionally, there is evidence that Chimpanzees may eat certain plants for medicinal purposes such as soothing an upset stomach or getting rid of intestinal parasites.
A male Chimpanzee is called an alpha (the dominant male within a community of Chimps)
A female Chimpanzee is called a female Chimpanzee (no special term exists)
A young Chimpanzee is called an infant
A group of Chimpanzees is called a community. These groups of Chimps are composed of around 15 to 80 members and are led by a dominant, alpha male.
Chimps, along with bonobos, are our closest living relatives. We share approximately 98% of our DNA with these great apes. This genetic closeness has resulted in Chimps sharing numerous similar traits with humans like expressive faces, big toes and hands that can grasp, laughing when playing, hugging and kissing to show affection, and being able to walk upright.
Chimpanzees are about 4 to 7 times stronger than humans. Their muscles contain linear fibers that make the Chimp’s muscles almost as strong as our bones.
Chimpanzees communicate with each other in several different ways. These forms of expression include clapping hands, calling out loudly to other Chimps who are far away (known as “pant-hoots”), drumming trees, panting (a form of greeting among Chimps), grunting and screaming (an expression of irritation or anger for Chimps), making facial expressions, and grooming each other.
For Chimps, grooming serves the purpose of cleaning as well as solidifying the bonds of family and friendship. This act is the most important social activity of Chimps and it occupies a large amount of each day’s rest periods.
Chimps are known to mourn the death of their family members and friends. These great apes have often been seen gently grooming and touching the body of a deceased Chimp.
Renowned primatologist and anthropologist, Jane Goodall was the first researcher to observe that Chimps make and use tools. Chimps are known to utilize stems to “fish” for termites, use rocks as hammers and anvils to pound open nuts, handle leaves as napkins and sponges, employ sticks to probe or break open beehives for honey, collect leaves and other branches in order to make a nest for sleeping, and craft spears to kill small mammals.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the Common Chimpanzee overall is Endangered. The conservation status of each different sub species of Chimpanzees is as follows:
Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee, Eastern Chimpanzee, Central Chimpanzee – Endangered
Western Chimpanzee- Critically Endangered
This means that the different Chimpanzee populations are at serious risk or at critical risk of becoming extinct in the wild.
Poaching (in spite of the fact that the killing, capture or consumption of all great apes is illegal) is the greatest threat to most Chimpanzees. Because of the low density of Chimpanzee populations and their slow reproductive rates, hunting these great apes can wipe out entire Chimpanzee populations.
The increases in human populations, ease of obtaining firearms and ammunition, efficiency of the local transportation system, and high financial incentives for supplying bushmeat (also known as “wildmeat” and “game meat”, this term refers to meat that’s obtained from non-domesticated animals that typically live in tropical forests. This commercial harvesting and trading of wildlife poses a large threat to biodiversity) to urban markets have resulted in the elimination of wildlife from major portions forested land in Africa.
Chimpanzees are hunted with guns (targeted killing) and with snares (untargeted killing). The wide-ranging use of wire snares across Africa means that Chimpanzees are being caught, maimed (seriously injured), or killed in snares that were set for other animals.
Additionally, Chimpanzees are sometimes intentionally killed by people who are protecting their crops or as retribution for Chimps raiding the crops of farmers. This practice is likely to increase (especially in West Africa) as more and more habitat is being converted into agricultural fields or plantations.
Additional threats to the survival of Chimpanzees are the illegal trafficking of these great apes as pets, habitat loss, and disease.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP CHIMPANZEES?
Post messages on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and send emails to your family and friends expressing your concern for the plight of the Chimpanzee and encouraging them to become involved as well.
Write letters to your elected officials in Washington DC and to leaders in nations where Chimpanzee live explaining why the conservation of Chimpanzee is important to you and encouraging these officials to work to help keep Chimpanzee from ever becoming extinct in the wild.
Help to improve the environment around you and around the world by working to reduce, recycle, and reuse. This will help eliminate waste and will greatly improve the world in which we all live.
And when you shop at Joe’s Cowtown Photos, you can designate Chimpanzee-centric programs and initiatives such as the Jane Goodall Institute UK, Save the Chimps, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s Adopt a Chimpanzee program as the beneficiary of the charitable portion of your purchase. (For more information on Joe’s Cowtown Photos charitable giving program, Cowtown Photos Cares!, click here.)
The information provided in this Animal Info page was compiled by Joe Hoffman (St. Pius X Elementary School Class of 1986 and Founder/Owner of Joe’s Cowtown Photos) and was proof-read and edited by Anita Striegel (Retired 8th Grade Teacher from St. Pius X Elementary School- Joe’s former teacher!)
To access the Animal Info main page, click here!