Mama, a 59-year-old chimpanzee and the matriarch of a famous chimpanzee colony was gravely ill. In this touching video, she was unable to eat and sensed she was coming to the end of her life when she is visited by her old caretaker and lifelong friend. The result is one of the most emotional and heart-breaking moments I’ve ever seen between animal and human.
When the Royal Zoo in Arnhem, the Netherlands reached out to her old caretaker, Jan van Hooff, who is emeritus professor behavioural biology at Utrecht University and co-founder of the Burgers colony, he immediately came to see her.
Van Hooff has known Mama since 1972 and he saw her a week before she died of old age in April of 2016. It took a while before she became aware of Jan’s presence, but his voice and touch reawakens something in her, and the reaction she has at the moment she recognizes him is one you will want to see.
If anyone has any doubts as to the ability of chimps to show emotional connections, this should put any doubts to rest.
Watch and share this incredibly touching moment with your friends and family.
If you have any trouble viewing the video above, try the one below.
Mama played a very important social role in the colony, which contributed to groundbreaking research on primate behavior that has been described in “Chimpanzee Politics” by Frans de Waal, who studied the colony since 1974.