Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, sharing nearly 99 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!
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.
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
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.
Walk the walk
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
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.
Come and meet us
Meet our Chimpanzee family at Taronga Zoo Sydney.