From the BBC:
It is clear the chimpanzees were aware something was wrong, and they gathered next to Thomas, lying on his back.
What surprised the researchers most was the way the chimps sat quietly around their deceased friend for long periods.
“Chimps never do that in other contexts,” says Dr van Leeuwen. “There is always something going on.”
Usually, they will groom, play or eat with each other, vocalise, and, on occasion, be aggressive. But 22 of the chimps came up to look at Thomas, with nine gently touching him, with one, a female named Noel, then touching her own lips.
The chimps didn’t inspect the body and then leave, which also surprised the primatologists, especially as the discovery of Thomas’s body coincided with feeding time, when the apes could hear food being put out on the other side of the enclosure by orphanage staff. More.
We might expect that chimps grieve lost friends; so do dogs and elephants.
What makes the concept of death different for humans is the abstractions: finality, permanence, certainty, life beyond death, and so forth..
Last summer, the claim was that chimps are entering the Stone Age. Of course the claim is without foundation; for one thing, a stone age can be known only in retrospect and there is no reason to think chimps had begun to behave differently shortly before they were noticed.
What’s most significant about such claims is the gap between their merits and the needs they serve. One wishes people could care about animals without demanding that they be like us.
Are apes entering the Stone Age?
Animal minds: In search of the minimal self
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