Chimpanzee

Pan troglodytes.

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Chimpanzee Portrait 01

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Chimpanzee Portrait 02

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RANGE: Africa: Guinea  (West Africa) to Zaire, Uganda, Tanzania

HABITAT: Rainforest, savannah with woodland

SIZE: 4 - 5 feet No tail

NOTES: Live in troops. Social and intelligent. Nesting in trees at night and often fast moving through the forest searching out food. Youngsters live with their mothers for 2-3 years - a period of intensive learning. Although there have been recent suggestions that some of these abilities have been learnt by individuals copying humans, some chimpanzees are proven tool users, and will use, for example, selected stones as "hammer and anvil" to crack nuts, sticks to catch termites bees and ants in nests and to "cream off" succulent weed from still water. Climb well but spend a lot of time on the ground walking on all fours, occasionally standing with hands full. Chimpanzees are the closest living relation to humans of any known living primates. Scientists estimate that they share something 99.4% of human DNA structure; This is usually expressed as people are 1% human and 99% ape. In fact we are 100% ape and not a separate species in our own right but a sibling species to the hairy apes, the chimpanzee and the gorilla. Our brain size is three times that of the Chimpanzee. We may all have shared a common ancestor as recently as 4 million years ago but we are not descended directly.

DIET: Mainly plant material such as fruit nuts leaves shoots bark also eggs and insects Chimpanzees are known to kill monkeys like Colobus monkeys and young animals.

CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered. Sadly our DNA similarity means that countless numbers have been used for laboratory testing. Hunting often by snaring is leading to heavy losses. In Gabon and Cameroon as many as 3000 may be lost each year to hunting. In a decade there could be no more living wild.

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"Now, I had known a great number of attractive and charming animals from mice to elephants, but I have never seen one to compare with Chumley for force and charm of personality, or for intelligence. After knowing him for a while you ceased to look upon him as an animal; you regarded him more as a wizard, mischievous, courtly old man, who had, for some reason best known to himself, disguised himself as a chimpanzee. His manners were perfect: he would never grab his food and start guzzling, as the other monkeys did, without first giving you a greeting, and thanking you with a series of his most expressive “hoo hoos”. Then he would eat delicately and slowly, pushing those pieces he did not want to the side of his plate with his fingers. His only breach of table manners came at the end of a meal, for then he would seize his empty mug and plate and hurl them as far away as possible.

He had, of course, many habits which made him seem more human, and his smoking was one. He could light his cigarette with matches or a lighter with equal facility, and then he would lie down on the ground on his back, one arm under his head and his legs bent up and crossed, blowing great clouds of smoke into the sky, and occasionally examining the end of his cigarette professionally to see if the ash needed removing. If it did he would perform the operation carefully with one finger-nail. Give him a bottle of lemonade and a glass, and he would pour himself out a drink with all the care and concentration of a worid-famous barman mixing a cocktail. He was the only animal I have met that would think of sharing things with you; on many occasions, if I gave him a bunch of bananas or two or three mangoes, he would choose one and hold it out to me with an inquiring expression on his face, and he would grunt with satisfaction if I accepted it and sat down beside him on the ground to eat it."

THE OVERLOADED ARK © Gerald Durrell 1953

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