Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gorilla Grieves Over Death Of Baby

gorilla mourns death babyIt is a picture of pain that made mothers of all species cry - a grieving gorilla named Gana holding her dead baby in her hands.

Gana's traumatic ordeal began when her three-month-old son, Claudio, suddenly died in her arms.

Holding him like a doll, Gana stared at her son, apparently puzzled by his lolling head and limp arms.

Gently, she shook her boy.

Gently, she stroked his hair.

There was no response.

A crowd gathered outside Gana's compound at the zoo in Munster, Germany, drawn by the unfolding tragedy, but Gana only had eyes for her son.

She prodded her boy. She caressed her boy. She seemed to be trying to will him back to life.

After a while, Gana gently placed Claudio on her back and slowly circled the compound, stopping every few steps to see if her boy was breathing again. Claudio gave no sign of life.

So Gana, age 11, resumed her lonesome pacing while all around her hearts were breaking.

Hundreds of humans bore witness to Gana's torment on Saturday - and many of them were crying.

"Many of the visitors were terribly shocked," zoo director Joerg Adler told The Daily Mail of London.

Adler said they think a heart defect killed Claudio, but they're not sure because Gana refused to let anybody near his body.

"In the wild, a gorilla mother can keep hold of a dead baby for weeks," Adler said.

Still, until this moment there was little evidence to suggest Gana would be a devoted mother.

Last year, for reasons still unclear, Gana rejected her six-week-old daughter, Mary Zwo, now the star attraction at the Stuttgart zoo.

Gana and Claudio had an unbreakable bond. And they showed the world that love and loss are universal.

While lions eat their dead, many other species have been known to mourn a dead comrade.

Dogs and cats often become depressed after the death of one of their own; dolphins spend weeks not eating or making distressed sounds and elephants become agitated when they see a elephant corpse.

"This, perhaps, is one of the greatest gifts that a zoo can bestow - to show animals are very much like ourselves, and feel elation and pain," Adler said. "Gana lost a child, but I think in that loss, she taught people here so much."

Story here.

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