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Animals Which Also Grieve For Their Dead

Grief is an intense pain or unpleasant feeling caused by loss. Its interesting to know that this feeling could be shared amongst a variety of animal species. Although it is still unknown if animals really understand the meaning of death. Today we are going to take a look at animal griefs which are as close to human grief as any could get.

Marc Bekoff is a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has spent his life studying animals and their emotions, finding that animals grieve quite frequently. Such examples of grieving animals were:

Sea Lion

Bekoff found that sea lion mothers squeal eerily when they watch their babies being eaten by Killer Whales.


Even after their calves have died, dolphin mothers have been seen to save them and grieve when they confirm the death.


have been "observed to stand guard over a stillborn baby for days with their head and ears hanging down". Orphan elephants, who have watched their mothers be killed, have been shown to wake up screaming.

Elephants are known to communally recognize a deceased relative similar to how they greet a newborn, by collectively touching it's corpse or old bones and possibly wailing.


A wolf sniffed her dead companion, then sat back and gave the most soulful and heart-wrenching howl. After a pack member died, the wolves let their tails and heads hang low while walking slowly.


orphans can die while in the state of grieving. Jane Goodall followed Flint, a chimpanzee, for a few days after the death of Flint's friend Flo. She noted that Flint "walked along one of the branches, then stopped and stood motionless, staring down at an empty nest". Flint had been mourning their dead.

Chimpanzees and Gorillas are recognized as the most responsive to death, with the mourning as similar to humans.


Ater a fellow goose died, Konrad Lorenz noted that other geese had their "eyes sink deep into their sockets, and the individual had an overall drooping experience, literally letting the head hang.


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Bekoff Ecology Marc Bekoff Sea Lion University of Colorado Boulder


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