Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Curious incident of a dead giraffe


A curious incident of a deceased giraffe has reopened the question of whether animals mourn their dead.
Zoologists have witnessed a giraffe mother investigating and refusing to leave the body of her dead calf, the third such incident on record.
Other social animals such as elephants and chimpanzees are known to investigate their dead, especially the bodies of their close relatives.
Such behaviour raises the prospect that animals have a "mental model" of death.
Details of the latest incident are published in the African Journal of Ecology.
Zoologist Professor Fred Bercovitch studies on behalf of the Primate Research Institute and Wildlife Research Centre at Kyoto University, Japan and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, based in Purley, Surrey, UK.
While tracking Thornicroft's giraffes in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia, Prof Bercovitch witnessed a female giraffe splay her legs and bend down to her newborn, but dead calf.
She spent several minutes licking the calf, before standing upright. She then repeated the behaviour a few times, spending more than two hours in total investigating the body of her lost offspring.


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