3 min read

Wild Chimp Spotted Playing Very Familiar Game With Little Baby

Turns out baby chimps demand games of "airplane" too.

A sweet little interaction spotted in the forest in Africa is an astonishing reminder of how closely related humans are to chimpanzees.

Chimp playing "airplane" with baby
Liran Samuni/Tai Chimpanzee Project

An observer at the Tai Chimpanzee Project on the Ivory Coast was lucky enough to capture the moment on video.

In the footage, an adult chimp is lying on the ground, propping up a baby on her feet. The baby is all arms, swinging them around every which way while the adult makes the baby bounce.

Chimp playing "airplane" with baby on forest floor
Liran Samuni/Tai Chimpanzee Project

It's exactly the game of airplane that the majority of us remember from our days as toddlers, when we'd demand our parents lift us up on their feet and let us pretend to fly. 

But this is far from the only thing we have in common with great apes. Chimpanzees have complex social structures and behaviors that help them establish relationships, conquer anxiety and form trust.

Wild chimp snuggling baby after game of "airplane"
Liran Samuni/Tai Chimpanzee Project

"Understanding something about great apes often also helps us understand something about ourselves," Gisela Kaplan, a professor at the Center for Neuroscience and Animal Behavior at the University of New England in Australia, told The Dodo in 2016.

Wild chimp cuddling baby after game of "airplane"
Liran Samuni/Tai Chimpanzee Project

Even the end of this game of chimp airplane is stunningly familiar — when the baby is brought into the adult's open arms for a playful snuggle. 

It's enough to make anyone a little nostalgic for being a kid. 

You can help protect chimpanzees by making a donation to the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation.