Chimpanzee vs. Bonobo

Chimpanzee vs. Bonobo

Chimpanzee and bonobo are types of primates that belong to the family of great apes. Both species originate from Africa. Bonobo can be found in the tropical rainforests of Democratic Republic of Congo, while chimpanzee inhabits savanna woodlands and moist tropical forests of West and Central Africa. Thanks to accelerated habitat loss, uncontrolled hunting (because of their meat) and various diseases, both chimpanzee and bonobo are classified as endangered. Bonobo and chimpanzee have nearly identical genetic profile (they share 99.6% of their genes). Despite that, they differ in:


Bonobo is smaller than chimpanzee. It has slender body, dark-colored face with pink lips and long hair on the back of the head. Bonobo also has shorter arms and longer legs compared to a chimpanzee. Chimpanzee is taller and have more robust body than bonobo. Color of the face depends on the age, while lips are always dark colored.

Life Style

Both chimpanzee and bonobo spend plenty of time on the trees. They use their strong arms to travel in the treetops. When they descend to the ground, chimpanzee usually walks using both arms and legs, while bonobo usually walks upright (using only its legs).


Chimpanzee is an omnivore. Its diet is based on various types of insects, primates (such as red colobus, bush babies), eggs, fruit and leaves. Bonobo also has mixed diet, but it consumes more fruit, flowers, leaves and seed than invertebrates and meat.

Social Organization and Behavior

In the community of bonobos, all females are strongly connected and more dominant than males in the group. Bonobos do not hunt cooperatively and they do not use tools to find/extract food. They do not show aggression toward other groups of bonobos. In the community of chimps, males are dominant. Alpha male is the leader of the group. Chimpanzees hunt cooperatively and they use tools such as branches and stones to collecting ants and termites from the anthills and to crack shell of various nuts. Unlike bonobos, encounter of two groups of chimpanzees in the wild usually ends in aggressive fight.


Both bonobos and chimpanzees are territorial animals. However, territories of bonobos often overlap, while chimpanzees patrol borders of their territories and avoid neighboring groups.


Bonobo communicates via high-pitched screams, while chimpanzee screams and uses hooting and grunting noise for communication.

Sexual Behavior

Chimpanzees reproduce all year round, but only dominant male gets opportunity to mate with receptive females. Unlike chimpanzees, bonobos use sex both for reproduction and to reduce tension, resolve conflicts, create social bonds, greet each other and elicit food sharing. All members of the community of bonobos take part in sexual activities.

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