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Chimpanzees Are a Lot Like Us

We know that chimpanzees are very much like us. We share common biology, behaviors, and emotions. For example, chimpanzee DNA (genetic material) and human DNA are 97.6% similar. In other words, only 2.4% difference exists between chimpanzee and human DNA. Chimpanzees are more like humans genetically than they are like gorillas, another great ape species.

Chimpanzees are intelligent beings like humans. Their vocal communications, gestures, and body postures communicate the mood of complex social interactions. We recognize in chimpanzee behavior some basic human emotions, such as fear, distress, annoyance, anger, rage and enjoyment or contentment. In laboratories, chimpanzees are being taught to communicate using ASL (American Sign Language of the Deaf) or a symbolic computer language. Computers are also used to teach chimpanzees to count.

Tool production and use is another shared behavior. Wild chimpanzees carefully select twigs to shape into long slender fishing rods using their hands, lips and teeth. Using one long finger, chimpanzees poke a hole in a termite mound, then slowly insert a fishing rod (a stick or branch they have altered for this purpose) into the hole. A few seconds later, the tool is slowly withdrawn covered in termites that have nasty, painful bites. Using lips and teeth, the chimpanzees carefully extract the termites and eat the tasty treat. Chimpanzees of the Tai Forest use rocks as hammers and anvils to remove nuts from hard shells. Like humans, chimpanzees use their intelligence to make and use tools to fit situational and environmental needs.

 

Captive Chimpanzees

Chimpanzees have large complex brains and perform sophisticated behaviors. It is important that they live in environmentally rich habitats to stimulate mental activity and reduce boredom. In addition, the use of "enrichment" devices and activities, novel objects and foods, intellectually stimulating feeding strategies (such as hiding food in browse, hidden holes in simulated trees and other structural objects in the habitat), keep the chimpanzees occupied. Keepers and volunteers are constantly in search of new enrichment ideas to add variety to the chimpanzees' day.

Chimpanzees living in zoo enclosures are also territorial, preferring some areas of the exhibit to others. Dominant chimpanzees may occupy favored areas of the enclosure while those low in rank remain at a distance. In some cases, fights over specific areas and the right to favorite females occur. Some zoos allow the chimpanzees free access to indoor and outdoor exhibits to lessen aggression. Still other zoo chimpanzees living together appear to cohabitate without any serious problems.


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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
Home
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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