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Critter Guide
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Critter Guide
Mammals: Chimpanzee


Chimpanzees are human beings' closest relatives. They can pass on traditions to their young just as humans do. In captivity, they have been taught to paint and use sign language to communicate with humans. Chimps are very curious and often frightened by invaders and predators.

Where do they live?:

Chimpanzees live in a variety of environments but are found primarily in 21 African countries.

What do they eat?:

Chimpanzees find their food mainly in trees. Ninety percent of their diet consists of fruits, with the rest coming from buds, bark, and an occasional insect or small mammal [See Did You Know?]. Chimps can poke sticks through holes to gather food, proving that they can use tools.

Social Environment:

Chimpanzees have social hierarchies and live in communities as humans do. They groom each other to maintain friendships and trust. Each animal has its own unique call. Chimpanzees can pout and smile and display fits of rage and jealousy.

Critter Fact:

Chimpanzees can reason and make decisions, taking the time to decide things such as whether or not they can trust another chimp.

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Did You Know?

Among the great apes (gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and chimpanzees) and humans, only chimpanzees and humans eat meat frequently. In the early 1960s, when Jane Goodall embarked on her study of chimpanzees in Tanzania, it was widely believed that chimps were vegetarians. We now know that the chimps in Gombe National Park kill and eat more than 150 small animals per year, ranging from the red colobus monkey (the bulk of their meat diet) to wild pigs and small antelopes.

Related Episodes
Deep Jungle:
   The Beast Within
Inside the Animal Mind
Jane Goodall's Wild
Wisdom of the Wild