Among animal lovers, the urge to anthropomorphize our four-legged, furry, scaly, and/or winged friends is strong. We tell ourselves that dogs like hugs and that cats actually have a sense of loyalty, despite Science refuting both of these rose-tinted hopes. One area of animal behavior in which research gets even more complicated is grief.
Studies have long suggested that certain mammals may recognize and understand death on near-human levels. Elephants and primates, most notably, have been observed mourning and performing what scientists refer to as "death rituals." That said, these same scientists are reluctant to refer to any non-human species' response to death as "grieving" just yet. And despite the heartbreaking viral images of chimpanzee funerals, more research needs to be done on animals' emotions before we draw any conclusions.
Of course, none of this lessens the emotional impact of what we've seen so far, whether it's a mother giraffe licking her dead calf's body or a baboon seeking comfort with the rest of her group after the death of her daughter. Because the thing is, even among humans, grief can feel like a mystery, so it's a small comfort to see some of our own mourning processes reflected in other species.
Click through to discover the animals that may experience death more profoundly than people might think.