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ChimpanzeeChimpanzee The chimpanzee is a great ape that lives in the rainforests, woodlands and savanna of Central and West Africa. Humans’ closest relative, the chimpanzee is one of the most intelligent of all animals, using a wide variety of tools and capable of problem-solving or learning sign language to communicate with people. It spends most of its time on the forest floor, although it usually sleeps in nests made of leaves in the trees at nights. An omnivore, it eats a wide range of foods, including fruit, eggs and insects. Troops of chimps will also hunt monkeys, deer and other small animals for food. There are two species: the common chimpanzee and the bonobo.

Mother and baby chimpMother and baby chimpClick to play video

Getting about

Chimpanzees use their long, powerful arms for climbing trees. On the ground, they usually walk on all fours using their knuckles for support. This is known as knuckle-walking. Both the common chimpanzee and bonobo can walk upright on two legs for short periods, especially when carrying objects in their hands.

A chimpanzee community A chimpanzee community


Chimpanzees live together in communities of between 20 and 150 individuals. The group is lead by a dominant male, called the alpha male. He maintains order during any disputes. The females often choose which male is to be the alpha male in the group, so a male must win acceptance from the females in the community.

Male chimpanzees form troops that fight each other, often while attempting to seize part or all of their rivals' territority, or from defending their own. The common chimpanzee tends to show more aggression than the bonobo.


When chimpanzees are angry or frightened, their hair stands on end.

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