Chimpanzees and gorillas can form friendships that last for decades.

Animals compete for resources such as food, mating partners, or territory to survive; But new research shows that chimpanzees and gorillas form friendships, some of which last at least 20 years. These animals play, eat together and have social relationships.

The new research is the first of its kind to examine peaceful, long-term relationships between monkeys. A group of scientists led by Cricket Suns from the University of Washington reached these findings using 20 years of data from Nwabil Nduki National Park in the Republic of Congo.

We know that many animals, especially chimpanzees and gorillas, are highly territorial. Both species protect their territory against other groups. Chimpanzees even kill members of other chimpanzee groups that wander into their territory. Between 2014 and 2018, researchers found that a group of Gabon chimpanzees in Central Africa killed young gorillas and even observed a female chimpanzee eating a baby gorilla; Therefore, the results of the new research are very surprising; Two monkey species sometimes form stable relationships. It is amazing that these species can live peacefully in one area for years.


Chimpanzees are highly social, and based on new research, they can have social relationships with gorillas as well.

Spending time with each other

Adult and young male primates tend to be more social and curious than other members of their herd. In their research, scientists found that young species are often looking for specific members of other species to play with and sometimes even travel long distances (more than 300 meters).

Mixing with another group of your own species or another species can be dangerous; But according to the evidence, both species lived peacefully next to each other and there was no warning of an attack. Also, based on the findings, female gorilla and chimpanzee species often communicate with each other with young children. Chimpanzees have even been seen imitating the chest pounding of gorillas. However, based on this research, none of the species had any warning signs when they collided with each other.

Friendships based on food

The next task of the researchers is to distinguish the difference between the behavior of chimpanzees and gorillas in the home distances of the Republic of Congo and Gabon (at a distance of 1000 km from each other). Chimpanzees and gorillas eat similar foods, and most of the friendly interactions scientists recorded in the Republic of Congo involved the monkeys feeding on fig trees and other fruit trees.

Figs are an energetic and valuable food source. The fig tree bears fruit only for four to five days and the fruiting of the trees is asynchronous (they bear fruit randomly). If gorillas or chimpanzees find ripe fruit at the same time, it is better for them to tolerate each other than to waste their energy chasing each other. A combination of knowledge and staying close enough to eavesdrop on what others are doing can work to their advantage. Chimpanzees usually eat more fruit than gorillas. However, gorillas in the Republic of Congo have a higher fruit diet than normal, which can be a justification for their friendly behavior with native chimpanzees.

Friendship of gorillas

The two gorillas seem to share a friendly silence

I want you

Wild leopards are hunters of chimpanzees and gorillas; Therefore, collective care is a valuable work. Both species react to predator warnings. They share information about predators and feeding sites.

Many other species also work together to avoid predators. Ibex, hyenas, and zebras gather in herds of thousands each year to travel long distances in search of food and safe breeding grounds in Tanzania and Kenya. This association has also been seen among other monkey species, such as the spotted-nosed monkeys and Diana monkeys from Tay National Park in Ivory Coast in West Africa. Usually, these behaviors increase opportunities for feeding or predator detection.

A herd of zebras

Every year, the East African plains host one of the most beautiful and impressive natural scenes

These discoveries also provide clues about human evolution. Different species of ancient humans had inter-species friendly relations despite overlap in nutrition and competition. For example, we can mention the skeleton of human hybrid species. Friendships reduce human stress and having a pet can help mental health; So it’s amazing to see monkeys taking advantage of these benefits and making friends with other species.

Related article:

Don’t underestimate the monkeys

We know that interactions between species are much more common than we think. In situations where chimpanzees and gorillas share habitats, researchers often study one species. Species that are not usually used to humans hide from the research team. Researchers often work with species that have been accustomed to the presence of humans for years.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, chimpanzees are commonly endangered and gorillas are critically endangered. This research shows how amazing our close relatives are and how important it is to preserve the natural world and their amazing behaviors.

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