Do animals mourn their dead? This has been a question many often wonder. The answer may be yes - animals do appear to exhibit sorrow when it comes to the death of a family or pack member. There have been numerous psychological studies and observations suggesting animal grief is a genuine and recurring process seen in various species throughout the animal kingdom. In fact, many creatures perform animal death rituals to help them cope with the loss of a companion or offspring.
Although animal rituals very from species to species, all creatures exhibit similar characteristics when it comes to expressing emotions of sorrow and stress. Some scientific theories suggest the creatures are merely reacting to death because of safety concerns regarding predators and illnesses. Still, many of these captured occurrences suggest animal mourning is in fact a sentimental state of being.
After all, It should be no surprise that like humans, animals also make deep connections with each other. Animals are extremely intelligent creatures with deep emotional and intellectual capacities. One thing is certain, animals feel and mourn the loss of friendships and families just like humans do. Discover the different types of sad animal mourning rituals that will tug at your heart strings and probably leave you in tears.
When it comes mourning the loss of a dead family member, chimpanzees share similar characteristics as gorillas. Often, a chimp family gathers and circles around their deceased. They may holler, pace, sniff, and touch the body, often moving the limbs into various positions.
In the case of an infant’s death, mother chimps carry the baby’s body around for weeks, sometimes months. As a mother chimp mourns, she often continues to care, protect, and communicate with the body. Additionally, a young chimp mourning the loss of their mother is especially heart-wrenching. The young chimp often becomes severely depressed, and they might refuse to leave their mother's body, eventually starving to death.
When elephants perform their death rituals, the herd generally surrounds the deceased body while nudging and fondling the carcass gently and swaying back in forth in an agitated, depressed state. The elephant mourning process can last for weeks, as the animal will often keep vigil over the dead animal’s remains and revisit their grave sites continuously.
In addition, elephants are an extremely sensitive species when it comes to death. Aside from mourning for their close-knit relatives, various cases reveal that elephants often mourn for unrelated elephant families as well as out-of-species creatures. Such as the case of Tarra, the elephant who mourned for the death of her small canine companion named Bella.
Canines are another special species whose death and mourning rituals are depressing to witness, as they are highly emotional creatures. When a dog mourns the loss of another canine companion, they often whine and cower over the body, occasionally pawing and licking at it. They may often remain beside the body for hours protecting it and softly moan. In some cases, mother dogs have been known to bury their dead pups. In addition, not only are dogs known to mourn for their own kind, but they are uniquely sensitive when it comes to the death of another species, which they consider part of their pack, including a variety of animals and even human beings.
Gorillas are another social species that develops strong attachments within their family group. When a family member dies, the primates usually show various signs of interest and stress. Gorilla family members may gently pat and touch a dead ape, and may even bury the body with leaves. In some cases, mother gorillas have been known to carry around their dead infants with them for days or even weeks, protecting the body from carrion scavengers. As the body slowly decomposes, the mother will eventually lay it to rest, but may remain depressed for a while longer.