Wildlife Species of the Week

The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)

The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), also known as the common chimpanzee, or simply chimp, is a species of great ape native to the forest and savannah of tropical Africa. It has four confirmed subspecies and a fifth proposed subspecies. The chimpanzee and the closely related bonobo are classified in the genus Pan.

The chimpanzee is an omnivorous frugivore. It prefers fruit above all other food items but also eats leaves and leaf buds, seeds, blossoms, stems, pith, bark. The average lifespan of a chimpanzee in the wild is relatively short, usually less than 15 years, although individuals that reach 12 years may live an additional 15. Wild individuals may live over 25 years and on rare occasions, around 60 years. Captive chimps tend to live longer, with median lifespans of 31.7 years for males and 38.7 years for females. The oldest known male captive chimp to have been documented lived to 66 years, and the oldest female, Little Mama, was over 70 years old.

The chimpanzee is listed on the IUCN Red List as an endangered species. Between 170,000 and 300,000 individuals are estimated across its range. The biggest threats to the chimpanzee are habitat loss, poaching, and disease. Chimpanzees appear in Western popular culture as stereotyped clown-figures, and have featured in entertainments such as chimpanzees’ tea parties, circus acts and stage shows. They are sometimes kept as pets, though their strength and aggressiveness makes them dangerous in this role. Some hundreds have been kept in laboratories for research, especially in America.