Chimps Hold Moving ‘Funeral’ for Fallen Maternal Leader

Visions of Earth 2009 - Photo Gallery - National Geographic Magazine_1256843557101

The photo above, which has been circulating wildly on the net in the past 24 hours, is something that I found it so moving that I just had to post it. It’s an image published in the November issue of National Geographic of a deceased chimp named Dorothy who was cared for by the Cameroon’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center. Prior to being brought into the center, Dorothy was trained to drink beer and smoke cigarettes at an amusement park in Cameroon. After being rescued by Sanaga-Yong, it’s reported that Dorothy, who was estimated to be 40 when she died of heart failure, became a mother figure to many of the other chimps at the facility. About Dorothy’s death and burial, a volunteer at the center said:

The management at Sanaga-Yong opted to let Dorothy’s chimpanzee family witness her burial, so that perhaps they would understand, in their own capacity, that Dorothy would not return. Some chimps displayed aggression while others barked in frustration, but perhaps the most stunning reaction was a recurring, almost tangible silence. If one knows chimpanzees, then one knows that [they] are not [usually] silent creatures.