Biology Magazine

Chimp Seen Swimming for the First Time

Posted on the 09 August 2013 by Reprieve @EvoAnth

Chimps are famous for a lot of things, but swimming isn’t one of them. In fact they’re notoriously bad swimmers, often drowning. Some zoos even use moats to keep chimps penned in. However Cooper, a 10 year old chimp raised by humans, is determined to break this stereotype and has become quite an adept swimmer.

Cooper’s story starts when he was around 4 years old. Whilst being bathed he began submerging his head in the water and soon learnt the trick to not drowning: holding your breath. He then started playing in his owners’ pool and used the same trick again, submerging his head whilst not drowning.

This appears to have given him confidence to explore and play in the pool further and he soon figured out how to swim. His stroke is unique, using alternating arms with simultaneous kicks (and a hint of doggy paddle thrown in for good measure). Eventually he even combined his two skills (swimming and holding his breath) to start diving down in the deep end of the pool.

Alas Cooper isn’t very good at swimming underwater since he covers his eyes and mouth with his left hand whilst submerged. Perhaps because of the chlorine, I’m not a huge fan of it either.

Maybe his owners should get him some chimp goggles.

swimming chimp

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