Zoo allows gorillas to hold wake for group’s leader

“After Babs the gorilla died at age 30, keepers at Brookfield Zoo decided to allow surviving gorillas to mourn the most influential female in their social family.

One by one Tuesday, the gorillas filed into the Tropic World building where Babs’ body lay, arms outstretched. Curator Melinda Pruett Jones called it a ‘gorilla wake.’

…Babs had an incurable kidney condition and was euthanized Tuesday. Keepers had recently seen a videotape of a gorilla wake at the Columbus, Ohio, zoo and decided they would do the same for Babs. Gorillas in the wild have been known to pay respects to their dead, keepers said.” (USA Today thanks to adam)

Adam mentioned he has run across other reports of animals mourning their dead. This Google search has more to say about animal grieving (although, because of the syntax I used, you will have to filter out a couple of entries about grieving for animals as opposed to grieving by animals). By the way, I have to react to the anthropocentric phrasing of the USA Today headline and the slant of the story. In this case, because Babs was euthanized, of course they had to make deliberate provisions to bring her body back into the gorilla enclosure for the wake, but should it really be up to their human keepers to decide whether to allow the animals the opportunitiy to grieve?


In another challenge to anthropocentrism:

“Monkeys may visualise a predator or food in response to calls from other monkeys, US researchers say.

Alex Martin and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, US, played coos and screams recorded in the wild to captive rhesus monkeys – held stationary – and used a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner to monitor their brain activity.

The calls elicited increased activity in areas of the brain associated with vision, visual memory and movement in humans – the posterior visual-processing regions and the middle temporal and medial superior temporal areas. Screams also activated parts of the brain which in humans are linked to emotion.” (New Scientist)