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Chimpanzees

About Chimpanzees

Physical Characteristics

Most people are familiar with how chimpanzees look, because although wild chimpanzees live only in Africa, they are found in zoos and seen in photos and films all over the world.

Chimps are almost entirely covered in black hair, rather than fur, and may have whiskers on their chin. Like humans, chimps have flat faces, forward facing eyes, and relatively small noses. These facial features have significant implications on a chimp’s senses – like us they have:

  • An increased reliance on vision: Bifocal and colour vision, depth perception
  • A decreased reliance on smell

 

Chimps’ faces and ears as well as the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet, are bare skin which can vary in colour between pink and black. Chimps possess longer arms than legs and have both opposable thumbs and big toes. All their limbs are very flexible. These features define how a chimp moves around.

Learn more about a chimp’s locomotion.

 

Infants have very pale skin and a white tail tuft, which disappears by early adulthood.

Chimpanzee males are slightly larger and heavier than females. East African adult males weigh between 90 and 115 pounds and measure about 4 feet high when standing upright. Female chimps weigh approximately 90 to 100 pounds, and stand at about 3 feet tall. At birth, chimpanzees weight an average of 2 to 4 pounds. Chimpanzees in West Africa or in captivity may be even larger.

Chimpanzees in the wild typically live between 40 and 50 years. However, in captivity individuals can live more than 60 years.