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Pan troglodytes


Chimpanzees are part of the great ape family and are one of our closest living relatives, sharing nearly 99% of our DNA.

Chimpanzees have long brown/black hair and, unlike most other primates, chimpanzees are apes and therefore do not have a tail. Like humans, chimpanzees have opposable thumbs to help them grasp branches and tools. In fact in the wild they are often seen using tools and we replicate this at Belfast Zoo. Our chimps regularly use branches to access the treats hidden in their false termite mound.

Chimps are very intelligent animals and communicate through a complicated range of hand and facial gestures. They live in complex societies with strict hierarchies, controlled by one dominant male.

Once found in forests all over Africa, these endangered animals are facing increasing threats to their habitat and survival. In fact, it is estimated that within 30 years all species of ape could be extinct.

Belfast Zoo is home to seven chimpanzees and our dominant male is named Andy.

Animal class


Diet - Omnivore
Chimpanzees eat mostly fruit, seeds, leaves, bark and insects. They also hunt small mammals.

Chimpanzees measure up to 1.6 metres in height and weigh up to 70 kilograms.

Chimpanzees are found in the tropical forests of western central Africa.

Conservation status
The IUCN believes chimpanzees face a very high risk of extinction in the wild. They are listed under Appendix II of CITES.

The main threats to chimpanzees are the destruction of forests, and they are hunted for the illegal bush meat and pet trade.

Current population
There are believed to be fewer than 300,000 chimpanzees in the wild. They are becoming more and more scattered and, even in relatively large forest areas, their population is declining.

Zoo population
Our chimpanzees are part of an ESB. There are 1450 common chimpanzees living in zoos across the world.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

ESB - European Studbook

Related links

Our other apes