Is this haunting picture proof that chimps really DO grieve?

United in what appears to be deep and profound grief, a phalanx of more than a dozen chimpanzees stood in silence watching from behind the wire of their enclosure as the body of one of their own was wheeled past. 

This extraordinary scene took place recently at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in , West Africa. When a chimp called Dorothy, who was in her late 40s, died of heart failure, her fellow apes seemed to be stricken by sorrow. 

As they wrapped their arms around each other in a gesture of solidarity, Dorothy's female keeper gently settled her into the wheelbarrow which carried her to her final resting place - not before giving this much-loved inhabitant of the centre a final affectionate stroke on the forehead. 

Locals from the village serve as 'care-givers' to the chimps - something hugely needed by the animals who are all orphans as their mothers were killed for the illegal bushmeat trade. Hunters captured them as young babies, often still clinging to their mother's bodies, to sell as pets. 

Until recently, describing scenes like this in terms of human emotions such as 'grief' would have been dismissed by scientists as naive anthropomorphising. Enlarge

But a growing body of evidence suggests that 'higher' emotions-- such as grieving for a loved one after death, and even a deep understanding of what death is - may not just be the preserve of our species. 

Me: It is difficult for me to believe that it is still a common belief that only humans felt grief. You should have seen my dog Pepper, waiting to greet my dad with his tail wagging every time a car pulled up in front of the house for a good six months after he died. 

1 comment:

Unbelievable said...

This is such idiocy. Of course it is unbelievable that these people would think animals do not grieve for their companions.

Even Darwin stated in The Origin of The Species that Apes felt grief and pain after the loss of another companion.

Even children in Kindergarten know as much. Such stupidity.

Makes me so sad to see these chimps grieving for their little friend. Just look at them. I saw this on the news yesterday.