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The female chimp has an estrus cycle of about 34 to 35 days.
While in heat, the bare skin on her bottom becomes pink and
swollen, and she may mate with several males. She normally gives
birth to just one baby, which clings tightly to her breast and,
like a human baby, develops rather slowly. An infant can sit up
at 5 months and stand with support at 6 months. It is still
suckled and sleeps with its mother until about 3 years of age,
finally becoming independent and separating from her at about 4
years. Sexual maturity is reached between 8 and 10 years.
Chimps are among the noisiest of all wild animals and use a
complicated system of sounds to communicate with each other. A
loud "wraaa" call, which can be heard more than a mile away,
warns of something unusual or disturbing. They hoot "hoo-hoo-hoo,"
scream, grunt and drum on hollow trees with the flat of their
hands, sometimes for hours.
Chimps touch each other a great deal and may kiss when they
meet. They also hold hands and groom each other. An adult chimp
often has a special "friend" or companion with which it spends a
lot of time. Female chimps give their young a great deal of
attention and help each other with babysitting chores. Older
chimps in the group are usually quite patient with energetic
The number of chimps in the wild is steadily decreasing. The
wilderness areas necessary to their survival are disappearing at
an alarming rate as more forests are cut down for farming and
other activities. As the human's closest relative the chimp is
vulnerable to many of the same diseases, and their capture for
medical research contributes to their decline, especially in
West Africa. as more forests are cut down for farm activities.
In addition, recent outbreaks of the incurable disease Ebola
hemorrhagic fever, threaten to decimate important chimpanzee
populations in the Republic of Congo and Gabon.
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- Chimpanzees use large sticks and branches as clubs or
throw them at enemies like leopards and humans.
- Chimps supplement their diets with meat, such as young
antelopes or goats. Their most frequent victims, however, are
other primates such as young baboons, colobus monkeys and blue