A viral YouTube video captured a charming moment of tenderness when a 59-year-old chimpanzee, who was gravely ill, was reunited with her old researcher and friend. The chimpanzee’s affectionate bond with the scientist will bring tears to your eyes!
At the advanced age of 59, Mama was the oldest chimpanzee in the Netherlands. She was also one of the two older chimpanzees known in all of Europe. Mama had lived at the German Zoo of Leipzig for several years before she moved to the Royal Burgers’ Zoo, in Arnhem, the Netherlands, in 1971. She was the matriarch of the famous chimpanzee colony of the zoo.
Speaking to De Gelderlander, park manager Wineke Schoo said: “Mama was for us a friendly chimpanzee. There was no harm in her. She was a spirited woman in the group, but could also mediate problems.”
It’s hard to watch this and say that animals can’t feel emotions.
In the footage circulating on the internet since May 2016, a severely sick Mama was resting on a straw bed. She was too weak to eat or move around.
Knowing that Mama would die shortly, Jan van Hooff, a Dutch biologist and an emeritus professor of behavioral biology at Utrecht University, paid Mama a visit.
Hooff, well known for researching primates, was the founder of the chimpanzee colony in the Royal Burgers’ Zoo. He had known Mama since 1972.
Upon seeing the lethargic Mama curled up in bed, Hooff stroked her gently and attempted feeding her. The emaciated Mama took the food without realizing who the person was at first.
When Mama looked up and saw who it was, she immediately recognized her dear human friend and companion. Ecstatically, she opened her mouth widely and made a high-pitched sound of pure delight.
Mama tenderly brushed back Hooff’s hair, looking up into the old professor’s eyes endearingly. She wrapped her arm around his neck in a loving embrace.
Magical moment a dying chimpanzee recognises her old friend and gives him an emotional farewell https://t.co/pf8cudRvSf
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) October 18, 2017
It was probably the last time Hooff came into contact with Mama, as, shortly after the heartfelt meeting, Mama passed away on April 5, 2016.
“Many people I have given tours to, after lectures and with training courses, have known her. When we arrived at the chimpanzee quarters, Mama always came running towards me from the farthest corners to excitedly greet me from the other side of the moat in chimpanzee language with a loud panting ‘oohooh!’” Hooff said, according to the Royal Burgers’ Zoo website.
“This past year it became more and more difficult. Each time it took her longer before stumbling she reached the moat. I will definitely miss her,” he added.
The video of their last encounter was shared by Hooff on YouTube, garnering more than 10 million views. Many people are touched by Mama’s affectionate reaction. “This made me weep like a baby. As a 31 year old male it’s hard to cry,” one YouTube user wrote.
Another said: “The way her face lit up when she finally recognized him was amazing. I bet she died peacefully and content knowing her friend still cared.”
“She acts like dying grandma meeting old friend for the last time. The way she touches his head… A true connection between two living creatures,” another remarked.
Rest in peace, Mama. We will miss you.
Watch the video: