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Zoo location: 
Scientific Name: 
Pan troglodytes
Species class: 
Population Trend: 
Quick Facts

Life Span: Up to 45 years in the wild, but 60+ years in captivity!

Size: 1.2-1.7m

Weight: 30-60kgs approx. - vary between the wild and captivity

Collective noun: Community

Fun Facts

Close relatives: Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, sharing more than 98 percent of our genetic blueprint. Humans and chimps are also thought to share a common ancestor who lived some four to eight million years ago. You could even receive a blood transfusion from a chimp if you shared the same blood type!

Smart workers: Chimpanzees are one of the few animal species that employ tools. They shape and use sticks to retrieve insects from their nests or dig grubs out of logs. They also use stones to smash open tasty nuts and employ leaves as sponges to soak up drinking water.

Identifying young: Young chimps manage to get away with being mischievous because they are still learning! A small white tuft of fur above their bottom tells the other chimps that they are young and should not yet be disciplined.

Walking: Although they normally walk on all fours (knuckle-walking), chimpanzees can stand and walk upright. By swinging from branch to branch they can also move quite efficiently in the trees, where they do most of their eating. Chimpanzees usually sleep in the trees as well, creating nests of leaves

Females in estrus have prominent swelling of the pink perineal skin, lasting two to three weeks or more and occurring every four to six weeks

Loud animals: Chimps will often flare up and get loud and perform aggressive displays. They make themselves look intimidating to fend off threats or even to try and gain greater status within their community.

Grooming is a major part of a chimpanzees' life. It serves mainly a social function, helping to strength relationships and bonds between animals, as well as keeping the chimps free of pests.

The newborn chimpanzee is helpless, with only a weak grasping reflex and needing support from the mother's hand during travel. Within a few days it clings to the mother's underside without assistance and begins riding on her back at 5-7 months. By 4 years of age the infant travels mostly by walking, but stays with its mother until at least 5-7 years old

Different vocalisations: Chimpanzees have over 30 different vocalisations with each meaning something different. They could mean anything from a threat is coming, to showing anger, to saying food is here.

Politics play a large role in Chimpanzee communities. Chimps form alliances to maintain or gain status within their community. For chimps it is not so much what you know but who you know.

Space chimps: Chimpanzees were chosen to be astronauts before humans!

Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives and share nearly 99% of our DNA. Standing between 1.3 and 1.6 metres a full grown chimp can weigh up to 65kg and have the strength of 6 men. Chimps are very intelligent animals which like us communicate through hand and facial gestures and live in very complex societies. Once found in forests all over Africa, these endangered animals are now holding on in smaller and smaller areas of habitat and need our help to survive. 

At Taronga:

At Taronga Zoo we have 17 Chimpanzees: 

Lubutu (M – DOB: 05/06/1993) Alpha Male. Lulu’s grandson and Lisa’s son
Shabani (M – DOB: 14/09/1994) Beta Male – Shiba’s son
Lisa (F – DOB: 23/08/1979) Lubutu’s mother
Spitter (F – DOB: 01/06/1960)
Sasha (F – DOB: 11/06/1980)
Shiba (F – DOB: 22/05/1981)
Koko (F – DOB: 06/05/1979)
Kuma (F – DOB: 06/12/1991)
Kamili (F – DOB: 02/09/1995)
Shona (F – DOB: 09/10/1987) Lowest ranking adult
Samaki (M – DOB: 27/11/2001) Shiba’s son
Lani (F – DOB: 26/05/2002)
Furahi (M – DOB: 28/02/2003)
Shikamoo (M – DOB: 25/07/2003)
Sembe (F – DOB: 27/02/2008)
Sule (M – DOB: 04/04/2008)
Fumo (M – D.O.B: 17/10/2013) Kuma’s son
and Shiba's son (M – D.O.B: 09/08/2014) 

See the chimp family tree document for more information on the makeup of the group.

Updates on our Chimpanzee Community

Taronga Zoo’s Chimpanzee community is internationally recognised as one of the most natural in terms of social cohesion, behaviour and breeding. To ensure the success of this group into the future, we are in the process of introducing three new females to our Chimpanzee community. Chimps are highly social animals with complex and dynamic relations, so great care must be taken when planning and implementing introductions to minimise tension within our current chimp families.

1. Why are we getting new female chimps?
The introduction of these new chimps is vital to the continuing success of Taronga’s community. Taronga identified the new females in three European Zoos. Their additional genetic input will ensure continued diversity within Taronga’s community for the next 50 to 100 years.

2. Is this normal?
In the wild Chimpanzees live in fission-fusion societies, where females will move in and out of neighbouring communities. Taronga has not introduced new Chimpanzees to the community for over 20 years. To facilitate the introductions of new females, the recently redeveloped chimpanzee sanctuary enables keepers to manage two separate groups and to move Chimpanzees between two groups during a fission-fusion style introductory period, allowing keepers to mimic what would happen in the wild.

3. Where are they from?
Two females have arrived from Givskud Zoo, Denmark, and one from Warsaw Zoo, Poland.

4. Have they been here long?
The incoming chimpanzees arrived late last year. After a period of quarantine the new chimps moved to an off-exhibit part of the Orang-utan exhibit so they could create bonds between the three females and gradually build relationships with Keepers.

5. Where are the Orang-utans?
To help with these introductions, our much-loved Orang-utans, Jantan and Willow, moved to a large facility not in the public areas of the Zoo while the new female chimps get to know one another. The former Orang-utan exhibit has been important neutral territory during the introduction process. The Orang-utans continue to receive daily enrichment and training sessions with the Keepers.

6. How long until the new females are integrated into the new group?
The introduction process can take months and up to a year until the groups are fully integrated and the introductions to Taronga’s group will be gradual. The duration and success of introductions will depend partly on the chimpanzees themselves. While the Keepers’ management strategies are a very important part of this process, the chimp’s individual personalities and interactions will play a big part.

These new individuals have to form friendships and alliances within smaller groups before being accepted by the entire community. The females will first be introduced to our alpha-male Lubutu then to other key members of the chimp community behind-the-scenes before being slowly introduced to the outside exhibit.

7. Why can’t I see any Chimps?
Introductions may be taking place behind-the-scenes so we appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.

Regular daily routines may be disrupted due to the introduction of new females into the group. The intricate social dynamics of chimp groups means it is necessary for slow introductions over an extended period of time. You might want to return when the Keeper talk is on, as you’re more likely to see chimps then.

8. Will they get along?
Keepers anticipate the male chimps will be ecstatic at the arrival of new breeding females, however there‘s likely to be hostility from the incumbent senior females in the group, who may perceive the new females as competition. It’s anticipated that developing the proper social cohesion and integration could take some time.

The repertoire of chimp behaviour ranges from incredible tenderness to serious violence. Taronga has consulted Zoos around the world that are experienced in introducing new chimps to an existing community, and designed meticulous step-by-step plans, including contingency options, however, there may still be fighting and attacking behaviour observed during this period.

9. Why can’t chimps be returned to the wild?
Taronga’s chimp group are excellent ambassadors for their wild cousins and compliment Taronga’s conservation partnerships with organisations such as the Jane Goodall Institute and the work that is being done in the Republic of Congo.

Chimpanzees in the wild are threatened by many factors, including loss of habitat, being killed for the bushmeat and pet trades and disease. Taronga’s group is internationally respected for being a high functioning chimpanzee community displaying a range of wild behaviours.


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