What are chimps?
Chimpanzees are one of our closest relatives, sharing about 98% of their genes with humans. They have thickset bodies with long arms that extend beyond their knees, short legs, opposable thumbs, and no tails. Much of their body is covered with long black hair, but the face, ears, fingers, and toes are bare.
The chimpanzee is the mammal most like a human.
They are noisy, curious, intelligent, and social. Chimps live in loose communities that can number anywhere from 10 to more than 100 individuals. They can share a home range that they protect from intruders and will sometimes forage for food in groups.
They enjoy spending time together.
Chimps touch each other a great deal and may kiss when they meet. They also hold hands and groom each other. An adult chimp often has a special companion with which it spends a lot of time. Female chimps give their young a great deal of attention and help each other with babysitting chores. Older chimps in the group are usually quite patient with energetic youngsters—not unlike grandparents.
Chimps are not picky eaters.
After descending from their night nests in the trees, they hungrily feed on fruits, their principal diet, and on leaves, buds, and blossoms. After a while, their feeding becomes more selective, and they will choose only the ripest fruit. They usually pick fruit with their hands, but they eat berries and seeds directly off the stem with their lips. Their diet consists of up to 80 different plant foods, and they will spend anywhere from six to eight hours per day looking for food. Sometimes, chimps supplement their diets with meat, such as young antelopes or goats. Their most frequent victims, however, are other primates, such as young baboons, colobus monkeys, and blue monkeys.
They can use tools.
Chimps have opposable thumbs and a firm grip. This allows them to pick up objects and use “tools” for certain purposes.