Mama, the chimpanzee had been the matriarch of the Arnhem Zoo Chimpanzee community for many decades. She was now 59 years of age and dying.
As with many people who die, especially when they see no more reason to live, they simply give up. They stop eating, stop drinking and then stop breathing. Mama was doing the same thing. She seemed to know there was no more reason to fight. But that was all about to change when a long lost friend showed up at Mama’s side.
Professor Jan van Hooff was a co-founder of the colony. He had known Mama since 1972 when the colony was started. The two had shared a deep bond. When he heard that Mama did not have long to live, he came to see his old friend. As Mama laid in a state of sickness at first, she didn’t seem to recognize Hooff. She appeared to have just given up on living. That is until she recognized Hoof.
Watch the video below you will see Mama just light up when she greets Hoof. The two share moments of touching tenderly as Mama pets his head. It’s almost as if she is the one who is doing the comforting. One thing is for sure, and that is that she recognizes her friend from years of forming a deep bond and friendship with him.
We know that chimpanzees share many of the same physical traits with humans. But in addition to sharing similar DNA traits, they also share emotional characteristics. They form tight and lasting bonds with their own kind and sometimes with humans too. Take a look at this video to see for yourself the love that Hooff shares with Mama. A word of caution though. You may want to have a tissue handy.