Mourning Gorilla Mother?
It may be one of nature's more heartbreaking scenes: a mountain gorilla mother refusing to let go of her dead infant.
Last month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park, ranger Innocent Mburanumwe captured pictures of the first-time mother, Ruzuzi, appearing to grieve over her less-than-two-week-old baby. Ruzuzi kept the body with her for more than a week, according to Mburanumwe.
Gorillas have long been known to exhibit care for the dead. Mburanumwe, for instance, has seen behavior similar to that of Ruzuzi's on at least three occasions.
Virunga veterinarian Jan Ramer said, "While we can never know what is really going on in their heads, it sure seems some gorillas do mourn—or don't accept that the individual is dead.
"When an adult female died last year, her three sons stayed with her body for 24 hours," added Ramer, a regional vet manager for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project who has studied mountain gorillas since the mid-1980s.
"I believe they were sad and confused, which is how I feel when I am mourning."