Oldest Chimpanzees Around the World

9 Oldest Chimpanzees Around the World

Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom and have long fascinated scientists and animal enthusiasts alike. These highly intelligent and social creatures share many traits with humans and have captured our hearts with their complex behaviors and emotional expressions.

Oldest ChimpanzeesPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

In this article, we will delve deeper into the lives of the ten oldest chimpanzees in the world, shedding light on their origins, their current status, and fascinating tidbits about each of these remarkable individuals. Sounds exciting? Read along!

9. Mama

Country: Netherlands
Born in: 1938
Status: Deceased (2016)

Mama, the oldest known chimpanzee at the time of her passing, lived a long and fulfilling life. She was an integral part of the Arnhem colony in the Netherlands and was known for her maternal care and wisdom. Her life was a testament to the successful care and management of chimpanzee colonies in captivity.

Did you know? 

Mama’s life story was documented in the book “Mama’s Last Hug” by Frans de Waal, highlighting her emotional intelligence and connections with both humans and other chimpanzees. Her story emphasized the importance of understanding and respecting the emotions of chimpanzees.

8. Penny

Country: United States
Born in: 1949
Status: Deceased (1970)

Penny, a chimpanzee at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Georgia, was one of the first apes to learn American Sign Language. Her early training laid the groundwork for future research into primate communication and intelligence.

Did you know? 

Penny’s signing abilities demonstrated the potential for chimpanzees to learn complex communication systems, which influenced the field of primate research. Her story emphasized the importance of providing enriched environments and cognitive stimulation for captive chimpanzees.

7. Flo

Country: Tanzania
Born in: Estimated in the early 1950s
Status: Deceased (1972)

Flo was a wild-born chimpanzee who was a key figure in Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking research at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. She was the mother of Flint, the first infant observed using tools in the wild, and she played a crucial role in shaping our understanding of chimpanzee social structures and behaviors. Her life demonstrated the rich social and cultural lives of wild chimpanzee communities.

Did you know? 

Flo’s life and family dynamics were pivotal in establishing that chimpanzees are capable of complex, long-term relationships and emotional connections. Her legacy continues to inspire research into primate societies.

6. Sarah

Country: United States
Born in: 1959
Status: Deceased (2019)

Sarah was a famous chimpanzee at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute in Washington State. She was known for her remarkable vocabulary and cognitive abilities, understanding sign language and using it to communicate with her caregivers. Her life played a pivotal role in demonstrating the cognitive potential of chimpanzees.

Did you know? 

Sarah’s ability to communicate and her extensive vocabulary made her a key figure in research into chimpanzee cognition and language. Her story highlighted the cognitive complexity of chimpanzees and their potential for symbolic communication.

5. Old Man

Country: United States
Born in: 1959
Status: Deceased (2007)

Old Man, who lived at the Los Angeles Zoo, was known for his advanced age and wisdom. He was one of the oldest captive chimpanzees at the time of his passing. His life emphasized the significance of providing proper care and enrichment for captive chimpanzees to ensure their well-being in later years.

Did you know? 

Old Man’s longevity highlighted the importance of quality care and social interactions for the well-being of aging captive chimpanzees. His story underscored the need for sanctuaries and facilities to provide lifelong care and support.

4. Susie

Country: United States
Born in: 1964
Status: Deceased (2020)

Susie, a beloved chimpanzee at the Houston Zoo, was one of the oldest chimpanzees in captivity until her recent passing. She was known for her gentle nature and the connections she formed with her caregivers. Her life exemplified the dedication of zoos and caregivers in providing long-term care and enrichment for aging chimpanzees.

Did you know? 

Susie’s life and well-being underscored the importance of creating enriched environments and social connections for elderly chimpanzees in zoos and captive settings. Her story emphasized the significance of quality care and social bonds for aging chimpanzees.

3. Washoe

Country: United States
Born in: 1965
Status: Deceased (2007)

Washoe was a pioneering figure in the field of animal language research. She was the first non-human to learn American Sign Language, communicating with her caregivers and demonstrating an extraordinary capacity for language comprehension. Her remarkable abilities not only illuminated the cognitive capabilities of chimpanzees but also raised important ethical questions about the rights and treatment of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.

Did you know? 

Washoe had a deep affection for her caregivers and even adopted and raised a young male chimpanzee named Loulis using sign language. Her maternal instincts were a testament to the complex emotional lives of chimpanzees.

2. Wounda

Country: Republic of Congo
Born in: Estimated in the early 1970s
Status: Deceased (2020)

Wounda was a rescued chimpanzee who symbolized hope for conservation efforts. She was part of the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project at the Jane Goodall Institute in Tchimpounga, Republic of Congo. Her story underscores the importance of conservation and rehabilitation efforts for chimpanzees affected by habitat loss and the pet trade.

Did you know? 

Wounda’s release into the wild was an emotional moment captured in a video where she thanked her caregiver, Dr. Jane Goodall, by giving her a heartfelt hug. Her story highlighted the positive impact of rescue and rehabilitation programs.

1. Jody

Country: United States
Born in: 1975
Status: Alive

Jody is a resident at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Washington state, where she enjoys a peaceful retirement. Her life story showcases the vital role that sanctuaries play in providing lifelong care and rehabilitation for chimpanzees who have been retired from research or rescued from the pet trade.

Did you know? 

Jody’s story highlights the significance of providing sanctuary and retirement facilities for chimpanzees who have completed their roles in research or require rescue from non-ideal conditions. Her story emphasizes the importance of ensuring a dignified and comfortable retirement for aging chimpanzees.


These ten oldest chimpanzees from around the world have left lasting legacies in the fields of primate research, conservation, and caregiving. Their lives serve as a reminder of the need to protect chimpanzee populations in the wild and provide the best possible care for those in captivity, ensuring their well-being and contributing to our understanding of these remarkable creatures. The stories of these chimpanzees reveal the complex emotional lives, cognitive abilities, and social bonds that make them such remarkable beings deserving of our respect and protection.

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