Chimpanzees are members of the great ape family, which includes bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, and humans. They inhabit 21 African countries and live in the greatest concentrations in rainforests along the equator.
Free-living chimpanzee populations are rapidly decreasing due to deforestation and the illegal bushmeat trade, for which chimpanzees and other non-domesticated animals are hunted and killed for human consumption. One to two million chimpanzees lived in Africa in 1900, while only about 150,000 free-living chimpanzees exist today, making them highly endangered.
Chimpanzees are genetically very similar to humans, sharing 98.76% of their genetic material. In fact, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas. Unfortunately, chimpanzees pay a high price for being our closest relatives. In captivity, they are subjected to various forms of exploitation and abuse.
According to Project Chimp Care, there are under 2,000 chimpanzees living in the United States. Of that number, the majority now live in accredited sanctuaries like Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. There are still hundreds of chimpanzees living in laboratory settings, but they are slowly being transferred to sanctuaries. Laboratories do not kill chimpanzees for management reasons, so retirement to sanctuaries is the logical placement. The hope is there will be no more chimpanzees living in laboratories within ten years.
At Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW), we are working to ensure that the number of chimpanzees within the biomedical research and entertainment will decrease as more sanctuary space is created. At CSNW, we believe that the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the chimpanzees come first.
With a thorough understanding of chimpanzee behavior, caregivers can interpret the needs and wants of the chimpanzees they care for and even use chimpanzee behaviors to facilitate better communication and enrich chimpanzee-human interactions.
Visit the following pages for more information on apes used in entertainment or kept as pets, chimpanzees used in biomedical research, and free-living ape populations:
Below are links to other web sites with information about chimpanzees and other great apes:
- The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) was founded in 2010 by the directors of seven of the leading chimpanzee sanctuaries on the continent. The mission of NAPSA is to advance the welfare of captive primates through exceptional sanctuary care, collaboration and outreach.
- Project R&R – Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories – is a campaign of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) with the goal of ending the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research.
- Retire the Chimps is a program of Animal Protection of New Mexico focusing on the fate of the chimpanzees living at the Alamogordo Primate Facility.
- The Jane Goodall Institute was founded by renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. JGI is a global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things. There is extensive information on the site about chimpanzee behavior.