The Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan® manages the genetic and demographic health and oversees the care of chimpanzees in AZA zoos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chimpanzees
Chimpanzee
Pan troglodytes
There are four subspecies: the central (P. t. troglodytes), the western (P. t. verus), the eastern (P. t. schweinfurthii), and the Nigeria-Cameroon (P. t. ellioti).
   
Natural History
Chimpanzees are the most widespread of the apes, found in over 20 African countries ranging from Senegal in the west to Uganda and Tanzania in the east. Not surprisingly, chimpanzees occupy the widest ecological range of all the apes, living in a variety of habitats that include tropical lowland forests, mosaic woodlands, and dry savanna woodlands. Their diverse diet includes 300+ food types such as fruit, flowers, leaves, seeds, small mammals and invertebrates.

Although not the only ape species documented to hunt, chimpanzees hunt at a much greater frequency than other ape species. Hunting frequency varies by chimpanzee population, with some groups hunting almost daily at certain times of the year whereas others have never been observed to hunt. Monkeys are the primary prey item.

Chimpanzees are known for their extensive tool use, which varies depending on population and is considered one of the best examples of non-human culture. Tools are used primarily to extract food- for example, using sticks to fish termites or ants and stones to crack nuts. Like the other apes, chimpanzees build nests that are most often located in the trees.

Wild chimpanzee males and females reach reproductive maturity at 12-15 and 10-12 years of age, respectively. Once females reach maturity, they typically give birth in six year intervals and produce three to four offspring in a lifetime.
 
Social Behavior
Chimpanzees live in multi-male, multi-female communities that comprise from between 20 to over 100 individuals. The whole community is rarely together but usually splits into smaller parties; this flexible social system is referred to as fission-fusion. Females usually disperse at sexual maturity, whereas males remain in their natal group for their entire lifespan. As a result, males show much higher levels of association than observed in gorillas or orangutans. Males work cooperatively to patrol their territory; intercommunity interactions are often very violent and can result in death.
Chimpanzees are highly communicative, using both auditory and visual cues. Pant hoots are one of the most distinguishable vocalizations and are usually given when individuals are excited or asserting dominance. In addition, barks are vocalized in hunting and snake alarms, and combination barks or drumming are also used to communicate in different situations.
 

Threats and Conservation
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified chimpanzees as Endangered. Increased logging throughout chimpanzee habitat creates a multifaceted problem. The logging itself causes habitat destruction and fragmentation which limits forest availability and disrupts the ecosystem. However, logging also leads to increased access to previously undisturbed areas. This tends to lead to increased commercial trade in bushmeat and disease transmission to chimpanzees and other primates. Besides logging, mining and oil extraction are serious threats to chimpanzees.


It is estimated that there were between 172,000 and 301,000 chimpanzees in 2003, but this number is likely much lower today. Although much of the chimpanzee population remains in protected areas, the effectiveness with which these areas are managed and monitored is constantly put into question.


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