This chimpanzee, at a theme park in the Ozark Mountains, has been trained to interact safely with people, but is still kept on a leash for safety reasons. Chimpanzees are wild animals, and much stronger than people. Pet chimpanzees have attacked their owners, causing serious injury and sometimes death.

Photograph by Randy Olson

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    • Chimpanzees are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. Chimpanzees also ingest foods to combat diseases.
    • More than 50% of the food eaten by wild chimpanzees is fruit. Almost all of this fruit is made up of a variety of figs. In addition to figs, chimps may eat Musanga fruits (from the African corkwood tree), Drypetes fruit, custard apples (fruit from the Annonaceae family of plants) and berries from a wide variety of trees and shrubs that surround them in their African jungle home.
    • Other plants eaten by chimpanzees include seeds, flowers, leaves, and nuts. The most common type of nut eaten by chimpanzees is the oil-palm nut. Chimps also eat kola nuts and panda nuts, whose shells are so tough that chimps use hard stones to crack them open.
    • Meat and animal products, like honey and eggs, make up less than 5% of a chimp's diet. Animals eaten by chimps include termites, colobus monkeys, beetle grubs, birds, bush babies . . . and, sometimes, other chimpanzees.
    • Foods eaten to combat diseases include: soil (which contains anti-malaria minerals) elm bark (which fights bacterial infections), cordia flower stems (which reduces the risk of tuberculosis), and unripe figs (which have de-worming properties).
    • Foods that are NOT eaten by wild chimpanzees? Anything that comes in a polystyrene cup.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    bacteria Plural Noun

    (singular: bacterium) single-celled organisms found in every ecosystem on Earth.

    bark Noun

    typically hard, outer covering of a tree.

    chimpanzee Noun

    large, intelligent ape native to Africa.

    disease Noun

    harmful condition of a body part or organ.

    flower Noun

    blossom or reproductive organs of a plant.

    food Noun

    material, usually of plant or animal origin, that living organisms use to obtain nutrients.

    Encyclopedic Entry: food
    fruit Noun

    edible part of a plant that grows from a flower.

    ingest Verb

    to take material, such as food or medicine, into a body.

    jungle Noun

    tropical ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    malaria Noun

    infectious disease caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes.

    mineral Noun

    inorganic material that has a characteristic chemical composition and specific crystal structure.

    omnivore Noun

    organism that eats a variety of organisms, including plants, animals, and fungi.

    Encyclopedic Entry: omnivore
    seed Noun

    part of a plant from which a new plant grows.

    stem Noun

    main stalk of a plant.

    tuberculosis Noun

    infectious, sometimes deadly, disease of the lungs.