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4 Animals Who Mourn Their Dead

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Chimpanzee mother with baby

Like elephants, chimpanzees have large brains, live a long time and also live in complex social groups; they have also been observed mourning their dead for prolonged periods of time.

Chimpanzee mothers have been seen holding dead offspring for weeks. In far southeast of Guinea, scientists observed two mothers carrying their dead offspring for many days — 19 in one case and 68 in another — before abandoning them. Dry-season conditions had resulted in the corpses being, in essence, mummified. As New Scientist notes, “in other accounts of corpse-carrying primates, the body has been snatched out of the mother’s hands by rowdy males, or in wet conditions it has disintegrated within days.”

Even more, the mothers treated the corpses with great care as if they were still alive, grooming them, swatting flies away and producing high-pitched sounds when they accidentally dropped the bodies on the ground.

In another case, after the death of Pansy, an elderly chimp in captivity, her daughter stayed beside her through the night and other chimps cleaned the corpse and the place where she had died.

Photo by Derek Keats

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674 comments

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5:17PM PST on Feb 15, 2014

intriguing. at least animals dont seem to turn to delusion

4:01PM PST on Dec 27, 2013

ty

8:07AM PST on Dec 22, 2013

fascinating

2:32PM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Many types of birds mourn their dead not just western jays. The great apes mourn their dead and many mammals of all kinds mourn their dead. Life of every kind where ever it exists has mourned their dead and are very much self aware. The only problem is humans underestimating the intelligence of life forms different from themselves and humans thinking and believing their superiority over all other life forms on this planet and elsewhere. Humans claim to fame is being the deadliest predator on the planet and to the planet.

11:22AM PST on Dec 20, 2013

I stopped when I saw 4 pages.

10:06AM PST on Dec 20, 2013

I have watch shows with some animals that mourn the death of theirs it is heart wrenching.

6:26PM PST on Dec 19, 2013

I saw some Indian mynah birds in the middle of a road freaked out by one of their flock being killed. They were all hanging around, in danger of being hit themselves, and obviously very upset. Even though they are an introduced species, and an absolute menace in Australia, it was very distressing to see. One bird was in the middle of the road, absolutely immobile, rigid, staring at the sky - there was traffic everywhere and it was dangerous to go out and take it off the road - and just as I was about to, some PIG of a woman deliberately ran it down. I was so angry - she couldn't have seen from where she was travelling that it was a mynah bird - it could have been a native bird - and I was going to go and haul the bi**h out of her rotten car but the lights changed and she escaped my wrath.

6:35AM PST on Dec 19, 2013

I have seen dogs mourn their companions and mates

5:36AM PST on Dec 19, 2013

Inspiring TY

5:05AM PST on Dec 19, 2013

The hubris of humans. To their astonishment animals feel emotion .. Wow

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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