© Maureen O'Leary, Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum

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The endangered chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) is more than 98% genetically identical to a human. Like humans, chimps have opposable thumbs to help them grasp branches or food. They are also excellent problem solvers and have been observed creating and using tools. For example, chimps use sticks or plant stems to get ants, termites, and other insects out from holes to eat. They also use sticks or rocks to break open fruits and seeds when the shells are too hard to bite open.

The greatest threats affecting chimpanzees are human-related and include habitat loss and their being hunted for the meat they provide. Due to increased habitat conservation and anti-poaching units in protected areas, their in-situ populations have increased slightly. However, chimpanzees are extinct in 5 out of the 25 countries they once inhabited, including Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Benin.

The AZA Ape Taxon Advisory Group and Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan® Program manage more than 270 chimpanzees in 35 AZA-accredited zoos and certified related facilities. Biologists at AZA-accredited zoos are engaged in long-term research to better understand chimpanzee behavior, social dynamics and development. The Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, an AZA Conservation Action Partner, supports many in situ conservation initiatives in chimpanzee range countries such increasing the size and quality of protected areas and encouraging local people engage in sustainable hunting practices.

The AZA Conservation Endowment Fund has provided over $49,000 in support of chimpanzee conservation projects including: 

  • $26,000 to Zoo Atlanta, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom to study the social interactions among adult male chimps in order to best design optimal management strategies. 
  • $23,608 to University researchers to monitor orphaned chimpanzees that were released in the Republic of Congo.

Chimpanzee Facts

Status Endangered
Appearance Chimpanzees have a pale face that darkens with age and becomes mottled or solid black, and long black or brown-black hair. Their arms are much longer than their legs!
Size They are between 4 and 6 feet tall, and weigh between 70 and 130 pounds.
Habitat Chimpanzees live in the humid forests, deciduous woodlands and mixed savannas of western and central Africa.
Diet Chimpanzees generally eat fruits and other plants, but they also consume insects, eggs, and smaller animals.
Breeding Females can give birth at any time of year.  Typically they have a single baby that will cling to its mother's fur and later rides on her back until the age of two.