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Monkey Grieving Death Of Partner Proves Compassion, Empathy Exists Among Animals

First Posted: May 27, 2016 05:30 AM EDT

Monkey grieving is one example of a show of grief and compassion in a wild creature. The dying monkey and her alpha male spent the last hour together under the tree from where she had fallen, breaking her head on a solid rock.

The monkey grieving partner touched her before she died, and remained by her side for about 5 minutes after she died. He stayed there beside the already dead partner, touching and gently pulling her hand, like he was trying to bring her back to life.

The story of the monkey grieving is very significant due to the exclusively gentle essence of the interactions, especially the kind of treatment given by the adult male to the dying female. According to James Anderson of Kyoto University, the circumstances show that in  a strongly bonded individual, monkeys could also demonstrate compassion to an ailing or dying individual.

Meanwhile, another report of a quasi-funeral for a captive chimpanzee in Zambia indicates proof about the behavior of crows when dealing with deaths. Combined, the two events provide more evidence that humans may unlikely be the only species to demonstrate grief after bereavement, or to display some respect for the dead individuals whom they have built ties with. They also suggest that even animals can show recognition of the certainty of death, Discover Magazine reported.

Anderson noted that although it is not safe to antrhromorphise, when the strongest bonds built between individuals are shattered by death, the individuals could feel emotional impact. He added that it appears logical to infer that apes and monkeys can suffer bereavement and grief, as there is already enough proof based from the responses to the dying individuals in species like the chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants. All these suggest that compassion and empathy exist in these species, including the monkeys, New Scientist reported.

Monkey grieving incident, therefore, offers a strong evidence that non-human animals also experience deep loss and grief.

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