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Updated: April 27, 2010 11:24 IST

Chimpanzees ‘grieve for loved ones’

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A chimpanzee at Alipore Zoo in Kolkata. File Photo: PTI
A chimpanzee at Alipore Zoo in Kolkata. File Photo: PTI

Scientists have always thought that rituals and emotions associated with loss of a loved one were unique to humans and marked them out from animal kingdom.

But, now two studies have shed new light on the chimpanzees cope with bereavement -- in fact, the animals keep “bedside vigils” and mourn the death of their loved ones with a range of emotions similar to those of humans.

While one showed that relatives of an elderly female chimp, spent hours comforting her as she slipped away and then refused to leave even when she had died, another study showed a mother refusing to accept the death of her baby and holding onto it for weeks after it died before “letting go”, British newspaper ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.

James Anderson of the University of Stirling, who led the first study, said: “Several phenomena have at one time or another been considered as setting humans apart from other species -- reasoning ability, language ability, tool use, cultural variation and self-awareness, for example.

“But science has provided strong evidence that the boundaries between us and other species are nowhere near to being as clearly defined as many people used to think.

“The awareness of death is another such psychological phenomenon. The findings we’ve described, along with other observations of how chimpanzees respond to dead and dying companions, indicate that their awareness of death is probably more highly developed than is often suggested.

“In general, we found several similarities between the chimpanzees’ behaviour toward the dying female, and their behaviour after her death, and some reactions of humans when faced with the demise of an elderly group member or relative, even though chimpanzees do not have religious beliefs or rituals surrounding death.”

Dora Biro of Oxford University, who led the second study, observed the mothers in the wild with their young dead babies.

She said: “Our observations confirm the existence of an extremely powerful bond between mothers and their offspring which can persist, remarkably, even after the death of the infant, and they further call for efforts to elucidate the extent to which chimpanzees understand and are affected by the death of a close relative or group-mate.”

The findings have been published in the latest edition of the ‘Current Biology’ journal.

i love chimpanzees and when i get a job i am gonna study them and go
around the world to help them when there sick or hurt i even have a fur real chimpanzee toy and when i rub the tummy it moves around and makes a
chimpanzee noise

from:  talia
Posted on: Apr 28, 2010 at 19:23 IST

I agree with the research which shows that even animals show a lot of grief over their dead relatives. I have seen in National Geographic channel, which revealed that elephants keep on turning and tossing the dead bodies of their close relatives for hours together, with the hope of getting some positive response. Similarly, a female monkey kept clinging to the dead body of her child for more than three days and quite often cuddling and nudging it, with the hope of seeking some response, which could prove that her baby is still alive. And lastly, I have myself seen in the big District Park close of my residential Colony in Paschim Vihar area of New Delhi, where, around 12/15 crows kept on crying near the dead body of their close relative, and often provoking it with their beaks, to answer their calls, but without any gain. I kept sitting in the shadow of a tree and observing the entire scene for more than 15 minutes and left for my house thereafter. All this very clearly shows that even animals have a lot of emotions and sentiments for expressing their love, closeness or fondness or grief, even for their dead ones. - R.D. Bhardwaj "Noorpuri", New Delhi (Mob. : 09911740007)

from:  RD Bhardwaj
Posted on: Apr 27, 2010 at 12:25 IST
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