Animals Nature

By Jack Mobley

 

A mourning monkey carried and groomed its baby for 10 days after it had died.

Studying her field guide qualification at Campfire Academy, Olifants West in South Africa, Tracey Mobley noticed one of the troublesome vervets was carrying around an unusual item.

The monkey had given birth to a stillborn ten days prior to October 19 when the primate approached Tracey and the other students.

On closer inspection, the offspring had begun to mummify and rot but still resembled a monkey in the heartbreaking clip.

The mother continued to groom the body and take part in social interaction despite the loss, which is common for primates but not for such an extended amount of time.

Tracey said: “It was very sad and empathic, she looked forlorn as if she was grieving and she kept trying to put it into a tree as if encouraging it to move and hold on, it was very distressing to watch.

“It was just very moving and we had many discussions relating it to when a human gives birth to a still born and just how little time they have with it to mourn.

“She was clearly trying to engage a reaction from the baby.

“To start with she clung to it at all times and then gradually started to carry it in her hand and left it from time to time, and then she would carry it in her mouth in order to make full use of all of her limbs like when she would climb trees etc.

“To start with, the monkey was still quite floppy with its arms and legs dangling.

“After a day or so you could see it had become stiff and, towards the end it had become almost mummified and didn’t resemble a monkey at all.

“The smell was quite powerful and if she left it near to where you were sitting you could quite clearly smell it.”