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Gorillas hold 'wake' for group's leader
Gorillas last respects similar to human behavior
December 8, 2004
Babs suffered from an incurable kidney condition.
"I had a headache for the rest of the day after all
the tears I cried watching them."
Illinois -- After Babs the gorilla died at age 30, keepers at
Brookfield Zoo decided to allow surviving gorillas to mourn the most
influential female in their social family.
One by one
Tuesday, the gorillas filed into the Tropic World building where Babs'
body lay, arms outstretched. Curator Melinda Pruett Jones called it a
Babs' 9-year-old daughter, Bana, was the first to
approach the body, followed by Babs' mother, Alpha, 43. Bana sat down,
held Babs' hand and stroked her mother's stomach. Then she sat down and
laid her head on Babs' arm.
"It was like they used to do in the
exhibit, lying side by side on the mountain," keeper Betty Green said.
"Then Bana rose up and looked at us and moved to Babs' other side,
tucked her head under the other arm, and stroked Babs' stomach."
Other gorillas also approached Babs and gently sniffed the body.
Only the silverback male leader, Ramar, 36, stayed away.
Keepers said the display wasn't surprising.
was the dominant female of the group, the peacekeeper, the
disciplinarian, the one who kept things in a harmonious state," Pruett
Koola, 9, brought her infant daughter, whom Babs had showered with attention since her birth in August.
inspected Babs' mouth for a while, then held her baby close to Babs,
like she loved to do the last couple months, letting Babs admire her,"
Babs had an incurable kidney condition and was
euthanized Tuesday. Keepers had recently seen a videotape of a gorilla
wake at the Columbus, Ohio, zoo and decided they would do the same for
Babs. Gorillas in the wild have been known to pay respects to their
dead, keepers said.
"I had a headache for the rest of the day after all the tears I cried
watching them," Green said.