Footage shows adorable chimpanzee playing 'airplane' with baby
If you spend enough time looking at the behaviour of the great apes, it's easy to see how similar they are to us humans. They play, they fight, they sulk; they even tell lies sometimes. And they're fascinating to watch. Chimpanzees, in particular, often perform incredibly human-like actions - which makes sense, given that we shared a common ancestor which existed from about four million to 13 million years ago.
The Taï Chimpanzee Project (TCP), a research group that has been following a group of chimpanzees for the past 30 years, are experts in their behaviour. "At present the project is following three habituated neighbouring communities totaling some 100 individuals," they explain on their website. "Each group is followed by a team of several Ivorian field assistants, international research assistants, PhD students and researchers on a daily basis."
And this week, they managed to capture something quite spectacular while monitoring the chimps.
In a video posted to YouTube, TCP shared a magical moment between an adult and an infant chimp, in which the pair appear to be playing "aeroplane". The adult 'zee is lying on its back, supporting the baby with one raised leg, and - just as your parents probably did with you when you were a child - it begins to jostle it about as if it is on an aeroplane.
Now, the clip might seem like the adult chimp is being a bit rough with the little one, but don't worry, we promise they're having fun!
It's not clear whether the two primates in the video are parent and child, as it is possible that the adult chimpanzee is simply playing with another ape's baby. This is quite common in the chimp world as, like human beings, the creatures love to socialise, and learn best by interacting and playing with others like themselves.
What's more: though this activity might seem like a bit of simple fun, chimpanzees are actually capable of performing activities that require some serious skill.
In fact, chimps from many different communities have been observed using tools to hunt, forage for food in ants nests, and scoop honey out of hives. Others have been witnessed communicating with facial expressions, while chimps in captivity have been successfully taught sign language (which, amazingly, they are then capable of teaching one another).
One account of a chimp kept in captivity even reported that the animal had learned to "play the drums" by hitting sticks against solid surfaces.
Seeing something like this happen in the wild truly is a wonderful gift, then - especially as the species is one of many that are at risk due to human actions. According to WWF: "Chimpanzees have already disappeared from 4 African countries, and are nearing extinction in many others. Deforestation and commercial hunting for bushmeat are taking a terrible toll on most populations."
Hopefully, footage such as this clip will remind people that Chimps and other apes are capable of understanding affection and empathy, and so they certainly deserve more from us than we currently give them.