All About Chimpanzee Dads


Although chimpanzee mothers forge strong, often lifelong bonds with their infants, chimpanzee dads seem to be pretty hands-off when it comes to caring for their offspring. However, in the last few years there have been a few studies looking at what makes a “successful” chimpanzee father, and how a chimpanzee dad’s social rank can help or hinder their paternal success.

In honor of Father’s Day, take a look at this round-up of studies, two of which came from research undertaken in Gombe National park, and learn more about chimpanzee fathers.

Paternity and Social Rank in Wild Chimpanzees

The researchers of this study set out to determine if and how the social ranking of a male chimpanzee would influence his success in siring offspring. Researchers chose a population of chimpanzees living in the Budongo Forest in Uganda for their study, and used DNA to analyze which chimpanzee sired which offspring.

The researchers concluded that “paternity success was significantly correlated with social rank, with alpha males siring a disproportionate amount of offspring”, however “both individual variation in male quality and the resources value of particular females may be mediating factors”.

To read the whole study, click here.

Aggressive Chimpanzees More Likely to Sire Offspring

Although there have been past studies which looked at the nexus of aggression and mating behavior in male chimpanzees, this study’s purpose was to find out if aggression was linked not only with mating behavior, but with reproductive success.

The study, conducted in Gombe National park, found that male chimpanzees who were aggressive toward female chimpanzees when the female was sexually receptive mated more, but that did not necessarily correlate with siring more offspring. Chimpanzee males who were aggressive to females whether the females were sexually receptive or not, however, did see an increase in the number of offspring.

Read more about this study here.

Relationship Between Fathers and Male Offspring in Wild Chimpanzees

A researcher working at Gombe National Park decided to investigate the relationships, or potential lack thereof, between chimpanzee fathers and their male offspring.

Over 11 years, the interactions between adult male chimps and juvenile and adolescent chimpanzees at Gombe were studied. No evidence of increased interaction between fathers and sons was found. However,  males who shared a mother were more likely to interact.

Read the more about this topic here.

About Author

Brittany is the Manager of Marketing and Communications at the Jane Goodall Institute. She focuses on outreach to JGI's supporter base through both print and electronic communications. Brittany has a BA in Journalism & Media studies from Rutgers University and a master's degree in International Politics & Human Rights from the University of Glasgow. Her involvement with the Jane Goodall Institute began in 2011 when she became an intern for Roots & Shoots, JGI's global youth program. Later that same year, she accepted a permanent position on JGI's Development team.