We live in a world where most things move at a 100mph. Our lives are ever changing, pieces fall apart and come together at a fast pace, and at times it’s difficult to slow down and appreciate genuinely beautiful moments. In amongst it all, though, you have those brief flickers that are impossible to ignore. This article concerns one of them.
It concerns “Mama”, a 59-year-old chimpanzee. She was the oldest matriarch at the world-renowned Royal Burgers Zoo in the Netherlands.
Sadly, the ageing chimp had fallen seriously ill, and was coming to the end of her long life …
Jan van Hooff, Behavioural Professor in biology at Utrecht University, and one of the founders of the chimp colony at Burgers, has known Mama since 1972.
So it was that when Mama fell sick and was approaching the end of her days – she was refusing food and drink from the staff – he knew he had to pay her a visit.
An emotional meeting
Everything changed the minute Jan walked in.
Initially, Mama ignored the professor. But when she realized who it was, recognizing her old friend of 40 years, she changed completely.
The reaction when Mama realizes who has come to visit her is something that goes beyond simple entertainment. It’s the showcasing of a bond that transcends all we think we know of human to animal relations. Mama’s emotional response upon seeing Jan is one that will simply touch your heart.
She even eats something when Jan offers her it. In short, Mama becomes a new chimpanzee.
Animals and their feelings
There remain those that claim animals are incapable of human emotions; that they can’t possibly remember friends from many years past. After watching this clip, however, I’m convinced they’ll change their minds.
It’s difficult to actually hold the tears back, and easy to see that Jan and Mama have a special connection. She remembers him as the dad who took care of her for many years, and their final encounter is a pleasure to behold.
Unfortunately, Mama passed away shortly after her last meeting with Jan.
When she slipped from life, though, it was with those who cared for her by her side. She lived a long life as the head of a chimp colony, and was able to help people better understand the life and behavior of chimpanzees as a species.
This clip should serve to remind everyone that animals feel so much more than we realize. They give us love and joy, appreciation and love. The least we can do is ensure we take care of them in return.
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