The chimpanzee (short form chimp), Pan troglodytes of the family Hominidae (traditionally Pongidae), is, together with the gorilla and the bonobo, one of three exclusively African species of great apes that are currently extant. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, both chimpanzees and bonobos are currently found in the Congo jungle.
Chimpanzee in A Different Flesh
Shimpanses were discovered by Portuguese explorers in Africa during the 16th century. One shimpanse, observed at the London menagerie in May 1661, helped Samuel Pepys to develop the transformational theory of life.
By the late 20th century it was clear that shimpanses were, along with humans and sims, one of three species susceptible to the AIDS virus. As they were more animalistic and less sentient than sims, shimpanses were seen as a somewhat more moral alternative for use as test animals in American medical laboratories. However, shimpanses had to be caught and imported from an extremely unstable region of Africa which had been harmed by the ravages of the same virus. As sims were local American animals, they were more readily available and convenient to use. Furthermore, human-sim commonalities were greater than human-shimpanse commonalities, and sims (but not shimpanses) could even discuss their symptoms in sign-language. Thus, sims remained the preferred test animal, in spite of the moral complications.
- See e.g. Kaleidoscope, pgs. 7-8, mmp.