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Old 10-27-2009, 01:20 AM   #1
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Grieving Chimps - Interesting Photo and Article

I thought this was worthwhile to share. I'm sure there will be some cries of Anthropomorphizing, but this at least raises some interesting questions.

Is this haunting picture proof that chimps really DO grieve? | Mail Online


Edit: I'm a complete tool. Can someone change that to read CHIMPS not monkeys I'd be all over someone for making that mistake
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:23 AM   #2
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Hmmm, I didn't realize that grief was considered all that sophisticated an emotion? I guess maybe if you're assuming it entails ritualistic mourning behavior, contemplations of mortality etc., then it could seem that way. But personally, I've always taken it for granted that animals often suffer emotionally from the loss of relatives, fellow pack/herd members etc., to whom they had longstanding social attachments. One of our cats certainly appeared to be grieving for a couple days when our 18-year-old dog, whom she'd known her whole life and who'd always seemed to be her favorite playmate, died last summer--I really wouldn't know how else to describe her behavior. Of course, I can't know for sure that she really experienced something resembling 'recognition of death' as we'd understand that, but certainly her agitation, repeated trips to check the spot where he'd always slept, etc., didn't appear arbitrary, and she'd never acted like that on the many occasions where he'd been away at the kennel or the vet's for a few days before.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:05 AM   #3
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I've had enough animals over the years to have seen several instances of what I believe to be grief. We had a couple of dogs -- a little mutt named Cricket and an Alaskan Malamute named Rolf -- that were best buddies. They spent hours every day exploring the fields and woods around the house. When Rolf died, Cricket was inconsolable. A day after Rolfie died she was in one of the fields and she would walk a little way, stop, bark the bark she did when she wanted Rolf to come to her aid (Rolf was her protector), and wait for him. He would always come running to her when she did that, so I think she was hoping he would this time too. But, of course, he didn't come, so she walked a bit further and repeated the barking and waiting. She did that several more times before she finally gave up. I never saw her do it again. After that she retreated to the house and refused to eat and just curled up in the bedroom shivering and whimpering. I was pretty sure she was mourning, but it went on for days, so we had the vet check her out. She was physically fine -- just heartbroken.

We got her (and us) a new puppy (Bailey, a Great Pyrenees), and she did have a great time with him. She was never as close to Bailey as she was to Rolf, but she did love him. Come to think of it, Cricket out-lived Bailey too, and died a few months after he did.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:47 AM   #4
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I think what struck me the most was how human the Chimp grief was reported to be. I mean, standing in silence with arms around one another is pretty human like. I must say though, it was the picture that I really wanted to share. I thought it was quite touching.

No more stories about pet dogs
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:06 AM   #5
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In a thread not too long ago about animal testing in medicine, I posted an article about research indicating the potential for animals' (not just chimps) capacity for emotion. It does raise interesting questions.

I'll spare you my own cats & dogs stories.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:10 AM   #6
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very very fascinating, that picture was quite emotive, jt. who knows the answer, and we may never know.

your stories are sad !
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:13 PM   #7
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That's a beautiful picture
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Old 10-27-2009, 04:36 PM   #8
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They look hungry to me.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:15 PM   #9
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Why can't dogs, cats or chimps share certain human emotions? We're all mammals and closely related. I could share similar stories to what others have. To suggest that intelligent mammals couldn't understand death or loss and exhibit physical and emotional reactions is foolish in my opinion. Such an evolutionary advantage in caring for others couldn't be restricted to just our species.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:38 PM   #10
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I didn't realize there was debate over this topic (and that picture is heart-breaking). At our local zoo, one primate's (can't remember exactly what species) mate had passed away years ago, and they had to give her a television in order for her to cope with the loss, as the species was one that mates for life.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:58 PM   #11
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1. Animals of many kinds most certainly do grieve.

2. I think some slight anthropomorphising is (just) allowable in the case of chimps. They are very, very, very close to us on the evolutionary scale. I'm sure they don't conceptualise things just as we do, but would wager their emotional terrain is fairly familiar.


I read something even more striking once about young elephants carrying out cross generational vengeance against human communities responsible for killing their parents. Years after the fact. This would have been in a section of Africa. I think it was Wikipedia and make no claim to the anecdote's accuracy.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:06 PM   #12
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They think elephants have a decent understanding of death. They grieve, or at least make calls that seem unique to a death in the herd and act physically in a way we'd associate with sadness, and then months later during a return migration will often go out of their way to return to the specific spot where one of the herd previously died, with perhaps still a skeleton visible, and seem to go through a kind of ritual (or are at least a clear change in mood/emotion) before moving on again.
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:30 AM   #13
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And yet all the Hallmark monkeys in the world picking away at typewriters all their lives would never compose a "Sorry to hear about your loss" sympathy card.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:55 AM   #14
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Who knows, maybe they will be blessed with typing ability in "monkey heaven"?
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Old 10-28-2009, 04:11 AM   #15
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Well, nobody said they could type. Nonetheless, chimpanzees are very close to us, and their emotions are hardly a closed book. That is not the same thing as saying they are human.
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