Mothers of Kings
Nature

Mothers of Kings

The Secret Workings of Chimpanzee Politics
Agnieszka Wójcińska
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Agnieszka Wójcińska talks to Magdalena Braum, who works as a primatologist and veterinarian in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

Agnieszka Wójcińska: How often do chimpanzees, patriarchal by nature, decide to pass power to the females?

Magdalena Braum: Coalitions of females – physically weaker than males – ruling the troop is not something unheard of at all, even though it’s more common in captivity, where males are often more psychologically bruised than females.

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The Rise and Fall of a Chimpanzee Matriarchy
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Illustration by Natka Bimer
Nature

The Rise and Fall of a Chimpanzee Matriarchy

Agnieszka Wójcińska

I learned that in Warsaw Zoo, it’s the female chimpanzees who lead the troop rather than the males. That’s an unusual arrangement out there, in nature. “Look at that, a female revolution,” I thought, and it warmed my heart.

Common chimpanzees, unlike matriarchal bonobos, live in strictly patriarchal communities. Yet I was told that in Warsaw Zoo, the females had taken over the troop. I decided I had to see it with my own eyes. That’s how I learned the story of three female chimpanzees who, although related, grew up to have remarkably different personalities and approaches to life. Soon, I met other primates from the Warsaw troop. Right now, there are eight: four girls (Mandy, Lucy, Kimberly and Liza) and four boys (Patryk, Szymon, Zarno and Frodo). And, just like humans, each of them is an individual in their own right.

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