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Did you know animals mourn?

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By By Calvin Odhiambo | April 27th 2014

By Calvin Odhiambo

When humans lose something of great interest, they undergo a process known as grieving. This grief is often visible characterised by tears, reclusion, and unstable mood patterns.

 Hard to fathom, but animals too, also deal with grief and loss like humans do. Throughout their lives, they develop mourning rituals to see them through tough times. The following are some animals whose mourning is recognisable to humans:

•Dolphins: These aquatic mammals, are best known for their playful spirit and expression of a range of emotions that mimic that of humans. It has been found that dolphins have a hard time accepting the loss of a loved one and will often remain close to the body of a pod member or a deceased infant, carrying it above water and taking it to the deep ends of the sea.

•             Chimpanzees’ close genetic make-up to humans makes them share some of similarities as well. The primates are known to become distressed when they lose a close member of the group. The animals cry, refuse food, mope and pull away from their social units during grieving periods. They are also recorded as gathering together in silence while grooming their dead to pay their last respects.

•             Gorillas, on the other hand, boast higher IQ’s compared most animals and tend form strong emotional connections. They have been spotted exhibiting sadness and concern during mourning with reports of some even impressively burying their dead. It does not end there; gorillas at times carry their comrades around for days protecting them from other animals. Geese are known to lose weight, separate from the flock and submit to other geese.

•             Whales become mentally agitated for long periods. Research show that this turmoil is so far-reaching that the teeth of the animal will become weaker during this period.

•             It is elephants, however, that are best known to mimic human mourning rituals after the loss of one of their own. Elephants do not only tap their large feet on the ground and make noises to alert other members, but they also shed tears, bury their dead, go into depression and starve themselves. They often gather and cuddle with their dead trying to resuscitate them.

So next time you are about to be unkind to animals, remember that they too have feelings.

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