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The biological embedding model (BEM) suggests that fitness costs of maternal loss arise when early-life experience embeds long-term alterations to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity. Alternatively, the adaptive calibration model (ACM) regards physiological changes during ontogeny as short-term adaptations. Both models have been tested in humans but rarely in wild, long-lived animals. We assessed whether, as in humans, maternal loss had short-and long-term impacts on orphan wild chimpanzee urinary cortisol levels and diurnal urinary cortisol slopes, both indicative of HPA axis functioning. Immature chimpanzees recently orphaned and/or orphaned early in life had diurnal cortisol slopes reflecting heightened activation of the HPA axis. However, these effects appeared short-term, with no consistent differences between orphan and non-orphan cortisol profiles in mature males, suggesting stronger support for the ACM than the BEM in wild chimpan-zees. Compensatory mechanisms, such as adoption, may buffer against certain physiological effects of maternal loss in this species.