Chimpanzees

View chimpanzees at Myombe Reserve and see how similar these social creatures are to humans.

Chimpanzees are primates, the order of animals that includes other great apes (gorillas and orangutans), lemurs, bush babies, monkeys, and humans. Chimps share several similar characteristics such as problem-solving abilities, parental care and various facial expressions. View these amazing animals at Myombe Reserve® at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay. 

Chimpanzees live in social groups, called communities, that consist of 15 to 60 individuals. There is a dominant male in each community who leads the other adult males in conflicts against predators or trespassing chimp groups. Female chimps and their offspring form close bonds that can last a lifetime. They spend most of their day gathering food, grooming, resting and playing. Each night chimps make a fresh nest up in the trees where they sleep out of the reach of predators.

Chimps have 24 to 30 different calls, numerous facial expressions, and a variety of gestures and postures that they use to communicate with each other. Male chimps will throw rocks and sticks as well as shake small trees to show off their strength. When searching for food the male will drum on trees to let other group members know the direction to travel. Pant-hooting is the most common adult call. It is used to identify the caller, give locations of food sources and to warn away other chimp communities. This hoot can be heard up to two miles away! Chimpanzees greet one another much like we do, with embraces, kisses, touches and hand-holding.

Only 50 years ago, the population of wild chimpanzees numbered in the millions. Today wild populations have been reduced and fragmented by loss of forest habitat due to logging and agriculture or through poaching. Estimates of remaining wild chimps range from 150,000 to 235,000. Chimpanzees were classified as endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 1990.

Q: What is a chimp?

A: Chimpanzees are part of the great ape family (not monkeys), along with gorillas, bonobos, orangutans and humans. They are native to Africa and are most notably known for their intelligence, tool-use and complex social structure.

Q: What is the natural diet of a chimp?

A: Chimpanzees are omnivores and spend almost half of their day eating. Their diet consists of fruits, seeds, vegetation, insects and meat. Meat is usually a small portion of their diet, but the amount of meat eaten seems to correlate with the time of year and therefore the availability of other foods. 

Q: How do chimpanzees travel?

A: Chimpanzees are ‘knuckle walkers’, which means that they walk on all fours, using their knuckles for support. They travel as comfortably up high in the trees as they do on the ground. They can stand and walk upright, but knuckle-walking is most common.

Q: Where are chimpanzees naturally found?

A: Chimpanzees are currently found in 21 countries in Equatorial Africa. They are most commonly found in rainforests, but can also be found in other types of forests such as secondary regrowth forests, bamboo forests and swamp forests.

Q: How big is a chimp?

A: An infant chimpanzee is 3 to 4 pounds at birth and is fully dependent on its mother for the first several years of its life. They are not considered fully mature until they reach the age of 16. At that time, males are approximately 4 feet tall when they stand upright and can weigh 130-160 pounds. Females are smaller and stand approximately 3.5 feet tall and weigh 100-130 pounds.

Q: How do chimps communicate with one another?

A: Chimps have many different ways that they communicate with one another. The most common forms of expression are vocalizations, facial expressions and body language; but touch and ‘displays’ are also used.