- The Animal Encyclopedia for Kids


Chimpanzee Facts

Size Up to 5.5 ft (1.70 m)
Speed Up to 24.8 mph (40 km/h)
Weight Up to 154 lb (70 kg)
Lifespan 50-60 years
Food Leaves, fruits, nuts, insects, small mammals
Predators Leopards, snakes
Habitat Africa
Order Primates
Family Hominids
Scientific name Pan
Characteristics Human-like primate

Main Characteristics

Chimpanzees are very intelligent primates that are capable of recognizing themselves in a mirror and use tools. They live in families of 6-10 animals, form communities of up to 100 animals, are active during the day and feed on about 80 different fruits, seeds, leaves, bark, honey, flowers and insects.

Chimpanzees Are 98% Human

Chimpanzees are our closest relatives genetically. Their genotype resp. the genetic information in their cells coincides with ours 98%. But we completely differ regarding our appearance, physique and intelligence. It is really stunning, that 2% can make such a difference.

Chimpanzee Chimpanzee - Photo: Abeselom Zerit/Shutterstock

Anatomy and Appearance

Chimpanzees Can Stand Upright

Chimpanzees spend most of the time in trees swinging from branch to branch. On the ground they mostly run on all fours, but sometimes they stand upright and then are 3.9 to 5.5 feet (120-170 centimeters) tall.

Chimpanzees Have Opposable Thumbs

The term oppose comes from the latin word "opponere". Animals with thumbs like this can oppose their thumbs to the other fingers and thus grab or work on things more easily. Other animals with opposable thumbs are the great pandas, red pandas, koalas, opossums, other primates and chameleons. We humans also have thumbs like this.

Chimpanzees Are Knuckle-Walkers

When chimpanzees move on the ground they normally tread with the soles of their hind feet. Yet, with their hands they form a fist and only touch the ground with the middle phalanges. This so-called knuckle-walk protects the delicate fingers, which are needed for the use of tools or to grab the branches of trees.

Chimpanzee Chimpanzee - Photo: Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock


Chimpanzees Practice Herbal Medicine

Chimpanzees eat specific plants when they are ill or injured. They clean their intestines from parasites by feeding on certain leaves. In one of these plants, scientists even discovered some remedy against tumor diseases.

Chimpanzees Use Tools

Chimpanzees crack nuts by means of stones and use thin sticks to get delicious termites out of their mound. Even though chimpanzees are supposed to be the world’s most intelligent animals, they are not the only ones to use tools. Amongst others, orangutans, ravens, elephants and otters also are capable of this.

How Chimpanzees Communicate

In order to communicate, chimpanzees primarily use their body language. They clap their hands for instance or groom each other. Yet, they also communicate how they are feeling with their facial expressions. When they are frightened or excited, they distinctly show their teeth – humans often misinterpret this as a smile.

Chimpanzee Chimpanzee - Photo: Michal Ninger/Shutterstock


Chimpanzees become mature at an age of 13-16 years. After a gestation period of seven to eight months, they give birth to a young chimp. Baby chimpanzees first cling to their mother's belly. Later they ride on her back. It is breast-fed for three years. At an age of four years it can walk and it stays with its mother until it is seven years old.

Fun Facts

What Does the Word Chimpanzee Mean?

The word chimpanzee has its originas in the African Bantu languages. It derives from "ci-mpenz" or "chimpenze".

Chimpanzees Have a Sense of Humor

In 2020, researchers showed for the first time, that chimpanzees have a sense of humor - just like us humans. They observed the animals offering objects to each other and unexpectedly withdrawing them at the last second. A high level of intelligence is required for performing this type of joke.

Chimpanzees Can Go Bald

Older chimpanzees often have the same problems as their human relatives: They lose their hair! When they get older, their forehead becomes bald and their beard gets grey.

The Chimpanzee Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:


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