A Day in the Life

[Keep in mind … chimps are not gorillas. Chimps are the closest, genetically speaking, relative of the human species. Gorillas are more the spiritual ideal of what the human species, at its best, could become. SB SM]

A series of short videos captures a rare view into the lives of wild chimps through the eyes of a researcher.


NOV 1, 2023,

published on Sapiens.org https://www.sapiens.org/biology/senegal-chimps-animal-behavior/

Two black-haired chimpanzees lie on the dirt ground in front of a blurred background of brown rocks and green, leafy trees.

SOME SEE CHIMPANZEES as invariably belligerent creatures. They kick, bite, and sometimes kill fellow chimps in disputes over mates, food, and territory. While researchers mostly try to avoid casting moral judgments on animal behavior, aspects of their work can still creep into public opinion, pinning a bad reputation onto chimps.

This impression mostly stems from popular accounts of specific research that focused on aggression and male hierarchy in a few chimp (Pan troglodytes) communities in Uganda and Tanzania. It’s not the whole story for those chimp groups or the species in general.

Through my fieldwork in Fongoli, Senegal, I have witnessed P. troglodytes’ more sociable side—and lives that are variably playful, restful, stressful, and fascinating.

Join me for a day of field research with the Fongoli chimps. Following a group from dawn to dusk, my videos show chimps swinging and splashing for fun, communicating with gestures, and fashioning tools to capture snacks. The footage reflects the rhythm of their daily lives—and what it’s like for me and other researchers who trail them.

We wake up between 4:45 and 5:00 a.m.

When the Fongoli chimps first wake up, they come onto the open plains.

Around 7:00 a.m., they start looking for breakfast.

By about 9:00 or 10:00 a.m., the chimps seek shady spots to rest.

They get creative with their play.

They use gestures, vocalizations, and facial expressions to communicate.

When it starts to cool off in the afternoon, the chimps search for snacks.

At the end of the day, the chimps build their sleeping nests.

A person with chin-length hair and a pink blazer looks at the camera.

Kirsty Graham

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