A Lot Like Us

Thursday, January 3, 2008

One of the four species of great apes, chimpanzees share 99 percent of human's genes. They live in structured groups of up to 100 and are good communicators, capable of nearly 40 distinct sounds, from soft grunts and lip smacks to barks, squeals and screams.

Family bonds are strong: Mothers nurse their babies for three to four years. Chimps are busy toolmakers, using rocks to shell nuts and beating hollow trunks to signal their presence to others in the jungle.

"They are all individuals, they all have different characters, so it's never boring with them," said Bala Amarasekaran. Describing his passion for caring for the animals, he said: "It would probably happen to anyone who gets close to a chimp. You see your reflection in them and want to help."

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