Chimpanzees are among the most intelligent of all non-human animals. They have repeatedly shown their abilities when problems have been set for them by humans, whether in experiments or more informal training.
Examples of Intelligence
Examples of intelligent behavior shown by these animals include the use of picture tokens to indicate specific subjects, as well as the learning of relatively advanced types of sign language.
Scientists disagree on the extent to which chimpanzee intelligence approaches that of humans, especially where abstract knowledge is concerned. Nevertheless, some primatologists do believe that the animals have the capability to apply known words in new ways, a crucial part of speech development in humans.
Chimpanzees use tools on a fairly widespread basis. Among the more common examples are the use of sticks or peeled bark to reach ants and termites which are secreted in cracks too small for primate hands to enter. The apes are also able to make use of hard roots and rocks to crack open hard-shelled nuts, as well as using flat rocks as rudimentary anvils.
Similarly, great quantities of drinking water can be obtained by the use of leafy sponges. Stones and branches are also used in more aggressive ways, especially when chimpanzees are threatening rivals or other dangerous intruders.
It is generally accepted that chimpanzees possess culture, in the sense of acquired information being passed down the generations and shared with other members of an animal's social grouping. The apes also display considerable local variation in their use of tools, with younger members of a group frequently picking up techniques from their older companions.
In some parts of Africa, chimpanzees have been observed to use more than one tool to complete a single task, for example in the combination of sponges and sticks to retrieve stores of water from hollows deep inside trees. Chimpanzees also show signs of inventiveness in their play, often becoming emotionally close to human keepers.