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the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada - FOR WILDLIFE RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND CONSERVATION

Chimpanzees

About Chimpanzees

Behaviour

When Dr. Goodall started her study of chimpanzees in 1960, very little was known about their behaviour in the wild. Since then, chimpanzees have offered insights not only into chimpanzee culture, but into our own as well.

Chimpanzee culture is much like human culture: groups in different areas share different cultures. Tool-use is a good example. Chimpanzees in Gombe use long twigs and alter them for better termite fishing. In the Tai Forest in Cote d'Ivoire, chimps are more often seen nut-cracking with rocks and flat surfaces. Learn more about chimp tool use.

Chimpanzees develop different cultural practices depending on their environment, and transmit their culture as learned behaviour. Chimpanzees have exhibited as many as 39 learned behaviours, including feeding, mating, grooming, and tool use.

But what kinds of behaviours do most sub-species and groups of chimpanzees share? Group structuring, communication, and hunting practices are often common from one chimpanzee group to another, and even these aren't perfectly identical.

Chimpanzee behaviour is so complex because a chimp’s mental capacity is so developed. Through research, many mental traits that were once considered unique to humans have been demonstrated by chimpanzees, such as reasoned thought, abstraction, generalization, symbolic representation and a concept of self.

Explore chimpanzees’ intelligence.

 

Learn more about chimpanzee behaviours: