Recently at Discovery News we told you how chimpanzees confront death. They do so in ways that are very similar to our behavior toward dying friends and relatives.
On the surface, it might at first seem that chimpanzee mothers break from those noted similarities. When their offspring die as infants, the mothers will continue to carry and groom the dead bodies until the mothers are able to gradually let go of them. By that time, the infant’s body has usually mummified.
The behavior likely mirrors, at least to some extent, the biophysical reaction of human mothers when they too lose young sons or daughters. Right after birth, the mother’s body is hormonally, and in many other ways, ready to care for the infant. Even after a baby dies, the physical connection can take time to adjust. This isn’t even taking into account the emotional bond.
Chimpanzees go through this adjustment period in a very literal way, by continuing to provide care for their deceased infants.