Chimpanzee Lifespan: What You Need To Know About This 'Great Ape'

Facts About A Chimpanzee’s Lifespan To Share With Your Prime-Mate

August 24, 2021 Updated October 27, 2021

chimp
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Chimpanzees are amazing, but a lot of us don’t know much about these rare animals. Some of us happen to group all monkeys and primates without realizing what sets them apart from the rest. Curious about the typical chimpanzee lifespan? Or want to know more about the standard chimpanzee diet? Then you’re in the right place. Chimpanzee facts are a lot of fun to share with kids!

Learning about animals is always a great way to remind children that there’s a big world out there, filled with tons of life. It’s our job to learn more about our world and respect all of the animals who were here first. And yes, chimps have been on this planet longer than humans.

Many people think that humans evolved directly from chimps, making it difficult to understand why chimpanzees are still around. Well, that’s a myth based on a fact (hence, confusion). In actuality, humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor — and that was around 10 million years ago. But according to LiveScience, chimps and humans have been on different evolutionary paths for approximately seven million years. Still, knowing we’re very distantly related to chimpanzees may make them even more interesting to study.

Can chimpanzees live as long as humans?

Humans live, on average, much longer than chimpanzees. A chimpanzee lifespan can vary slightly depending on the chimp’s level of care, but primatologists don’t expect a standard wild chimp to live longer than 50 years. Chimps that are held captive and cared for by humans, however, can live until their 60th birthday.

How old is the oldest chimp?

A chimpanzee named Little Mama was the oldest known chimpanzee on record before her death from old age in 2017. In 1972, famed primatologist Jane Goodall estimated Little Mama’s age to be between 30 and 35, meaning the chimp was likely in her late 70s when she passed away.

The suspected oldest living chimp (as of 2021) goes by the name of Joao. Once a circus chimp in Mozambique, he lived in social isolation for roughly 45 years at the Maputo Zoo before he came to live at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Chimp Eden sanctuary. Joao is currently estimated to be between 73 and 78 years old.

What are some threats to a standard chimpanzee lifespan?

The chimpanzee lifespan may get cut short if leopards or other wild cats hunt them. But, unfortunately, humans have been known to cause the most havoc to the chimpanzee population. Humans often hunt chimpanzees for food, categorized as “bushmeat.” It’s a practice that shouldn’t exist, which is why it’s crucial to get the word out that their populations are being threatened.

Disease and habitat loss are the two other significant factors that might negatively affect a chimpanzee’s lifespan. It’s tough for chimps since they typically only usually have one baby per pregnancy. Rebuilding the chimpanzee population takes a long time, which is always challenging when it comes to preserving a species.

Chimps are also susceptible to 140 human diseases. And, the likeliness of those diseases goes up every time they get closer to a large group of people. It only takes one carelessly ill visitor to possibly cause issues. One of the biggest threats? The Ebola virus.

What makes up the chimpanzee diet?

The chimpanzee diet is actually quite fascinating in how varied it is! Their food selection includes a mix of seeds, leaves, bark, and flowers. But they also eat insects, fruit, and honey. In fact, per the San Diego Zoo, scientists have recorded around 80 different items that chimps eat.

Fun fact? Chimpanzees also enjoy partaking in an alcoholic beverage from time to time. Yes, you read that right. In Guinea, West Africa, scientists observed wild chimps creating drinking vessels out of leaves and drinking wine made from naturally fermented raffia palms.

Do chimps eat meat?

Although it may come as a surprise, many chimpanzees also hunt. Dr. Jane Goodall was the first to observe chimpanzees eating meat when she noted them using sticks to extract termites from mounds for a snack.

It isn’t just insects that chimps eat, though. The chimpanzee diet can include the meat of antelope or even other monkeys. The red colobus monkey is the most popular type to be feasted upon by the chimpanzee. It seems grim, but it’s all part of the food chain.

What are some other chimpanzee facts for kids?

Chimpanzee facts are great to collect, either for school or just for curiosity. They may even inspire you or your kids to become better advocates of the chimpanzee. They need a lot of help right now for their species to stick around. Here are some other chimpanzee facts that are great to pass on:

  • Chimps are incredibly social. Aside from DNA, that’s one thing they really share in common with humans. They sometimes choose to hunt together and also bond by grooming each other.
  • They’re kind enough to warn their friends if danger is ahead. Chimps look out for each other. If one sees something that may pose a threat, they’ll tell their friends through communication and body language. And those warnings will appear more urgent when they’re in the presence of chimps they genuinely like.
  • Chimps are smart enough to use tools. They take items like sticks and branches and use them to achieve a goal better. If a chimp saw an insect in the distance that looked compelling enough to eat, they’d likely be able to reach it using a twig to help.
  • These primates may be cleaner than humans. Next time you tell your partner that their room looks like a chimp’s nest, be aware that’s a compliment. Chimps are known to build new nests daily, which means that there’s less of a chance for bacteria to pile up. Some humans, on the other hand, take months to wash their bedsheets. (Yikes.)
  • Chimpanzees laugh when they’re playing.
  • When chimpanzees get really angry or scared, their hairs stand up.
  • Chimpanzees show affection like humans. They hug, kiss, hold hands, tickle, and pat each other on the back.
  • Chimps are super athletic, thanks to their super-fast twitch muscle fibers. They are actually four times stronger than humans and can run at almost 25 miles per hour.
  • Baby chimpanzees usually have a patch of white hair on their bottoms. As they grow older, it disappears.
  • A parasite called Toxoplasma gondii puts chimps in danger in more than one way. Not only does it infect chimps, but it also causes an attraction to leopard urine. As you can imagine, this attraction can put chimps directly in the path of danger.
  • Female chimpanzees become sexually mature at the age of 13.