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Grief in Prairie Dogs: Mourning a Death in the Family

Marc Bekoff: ‘Grief and mourning are more widespread among nonhuman animals (animals) than previously thought… While riding my bike north of Boulder, I observed an interaction between an adult Black-tailed prairie dog who looked to be a female and a youngster who had been killed by a car. It looked like the accident had happened a few minutes before I happened on the sorrowful scene. I was astounded by what I saw…  I honestly don’t know what the adult prairie dog was thinking and feeling, but her persistence in trying to remove the carcass from the road, her finally succeeding and then touching the corpse and emitting a high-pitched vocalization, and a few minutes later trying to return to the dead body, tells me that she may have been grieving and wanted to say good-bye to the youngster, perhaps her own child…

This encounter reminded me of another chance observation, sad as it was, I was most fortunate to observe a few years ago… This time it was a magpie funeral about which I wrote in an essay called “Grieving Animals: Saying Goodbye to Friends and Family”… We learn much about ourselves when we recognize the treasures that other animals freely offer to us when we take the time to learn about their fascinating lives. Grieving and mourning say so much about the character of individuals of numerous diverse species. I imagine it’s far more widespread than we currently imagine’. SOURCE…

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