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Chimp Minds

Teaching Guide
Understanding travel routes
Understanding Travel Routes
Speaking Chimp
Representing Social Networks
Image of treasure map

In 'Fishing...For Ketchup,' you watched some of the videotape that Elizabeth Lonsdorf shot in Africa of chimps on termite mounds. She was carrying on the tradition of careful chimp observation, started by Jane Goodall during her original field study. Careful observation is a primary way for us to learn about animals in their natural habitat. It was through witnessing their daily lives that Goodall gained insight and understanding into the social interaction and lives of chimpanzees. Often, she followed the travel routes of chimpanzees, taking care not to interfere with their natural selection of routes and nest sites. During these travels, Goodall maintained field notes that were later translated into maps illustrating the animals' movements.

Note to educators


This activity page will offer:

  • an introduction to travel routes
  • an experience with Jane Goodall's field study methods
  • an opportunity to analyze travel routes
  • a chance to observe and record personal travel routes


  • Travel route map (as drawn below)
  • Paper and pencil


PART 1 -
Interpreting Graphics

  1. Examine this map. It illustrates the travel routes and evening nesting sites of two chimpanzees. Each night's nest is numbered consecutively. All questions below are based upon this field study and the behaviors/actions it suggests.
  2. How many nesting sites does a chimpanzee make each evening?
  3. How many nesting sites for Gonzo were identified?
  4. How many nesting sites for Coco were identified?
  5. Which animal preferred to travel closer to the river?
  6. Which animal preferred to nest in groups?
  7. Which animal traveled a greater distance?
  8. How many times did Gonzo come in contact with a river?

Map image


During which day of travel did Gonzo most likely meet up and remain with his chimpanzee group? Explain.


Although the group remains in a certain region, it does not nest in the same spot each night. The chimps travel and establish new nesting areas.
What are the advantages of this behavior?
Humans evolved from this type of foraging behavior to establish fixed camps and settlements.
What social advancements helped establish this switch?
What were the advantages of remaining in one place?


PART 2 - Recording Your Travel Routes

  1. Think about yesterday. Where did you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
  2. Sketch out a typical day's travel. When creating your drawing, keep in mind both scale and simplicity of route. Scale - Use a scale that is appropriate to your travel. Make sure you have enough space to illustrate the extent of your travel. Remember, keep your route simple. Although you took footsteps in hundreds of different directions, just approximate your major moves.
  3. On your travel route, identify the locations of your breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  4. Talk with a friend or classmate and uncover the travel route they followed on the same day as you mapped. Add this route to your own map. Identify your friend's location for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Did your routes overlap? Is so, where? Can you explain the similarities and differences in your travel routes?


Maps are a symbolic representation of a landscape or place. Instead of using reduced scale versions of the concept they represent, they use abstract symbols (dots represent cities instead of scaled-down images of real cities, etc.). Make a map of something common to your classmates. The map can represent anything from your teacher's cluttered desk to the layout of the cafeteria. Exchange completed maps with a classmate. Don't identify the subject of the map. Let them apply critical observation skills and inferences to determine the map's subject.


African Ape Study Sites
Information and links to primate field stations in Africa.


The activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio, a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound" (Sterling Publishing Co., NY).

Academic Advisors for this Guide:

Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools, Wayland, MA
Suzanne Panico, Science Department, Fenway High School, Boston, MA
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School, Wayland, MA

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