Infancy and Childhood

Chimpanzee infants are born after 8 months of gestation. At birth they weigh less than 3 lbs. and like human infants, they are extremely fragile and helpless. During the first months of life infants are completely dependent on their mothers for food and care. A newborn infant nurses for 3 minutes nearly every hour. At night the infant is kept warm and safe in its mother's arms high in the trees in her sleeping nest. At 6 months-of-age, the infant moves clumsily and stumbles about on the ground but climbs about more securely in the branches of low trees. Chimpanzee infants continue to breast feed for the first four or five years of life. They are even more dependent on their mothers for comfort and food than human infants.

Childhood begins at five years-of-age and lasts until the juvenile chimpanzee is seven years old or becomes sexually matured. During this time, the young chimpanzee remains close to its mother but spends increasing larger amounts of time away from her with members of its own age group. It has learned to build its own sleeping nest and no longer depends on her for nourishment and transportation. Females give birth to one infant about every five years. Two out of five infants will survive to adulthood.

Captive Chimpanzees


Mother and son at the Honolulu Zoo

Zoo chimpanzees mature faster than wild ones. Although it is not common, female chimpanzees have given birth and male chimpanzees have fathered infants at six years-of-age. Maturity also appears to be occurring at a younger age. There are nearly forty chimpanzees of 34 years or older in American zoos. Several have lived into the fifth decade and at least one male and one female are now in their sixties. Modern keepers not only look after the chimpanzees' needs but also monitor their health and psychological well-being. The life span of pet chimpanzees is not known.


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Chimpanzee Learning Cards

A.

ChimpanZoo Learning Cards
1.
Origins and Habitat of Chimpanzees

2.

Chimpanzee Social Groups
3.
Chimpanzees Living in Zoos
4.
Infancy and Childhood
5.
Chimpanzee Adolescence and Gender Specific Roles
6.
The Importance of Mothering
7.
Mothering and Play
8.
Play
9.
Depression
10.
Dominance Displays
11.
Submission
12.
Contact
13.
Grooming
14.
Food
15.
Territorial Behavior
16.
Chimpanzees Are a Lot Like Us
17.
Communication
18.
Chimpanzees Are Individuals
19.
Mike's Ingenious Idea
20.
Mike (1938-1975)
21.
Mike the Alpha Male
22.
The Human Threat to Wild Chimpanzees
23.
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE
24.
The Jane Goodall Institute
25. Books by Jane Goodall
26. Bibliography

 

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