'Grieving' monkey filmed carrying around dead offspring for 10 days

'Grieving' monkey filmed carrying around dead offspring for 10 days

A heartbreaking video has gone viral on social media this week, which shows a mother vervet monkey carrying the corpse of one of her children.

According to British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail, the footage was filmed by a woman named Tracey Mobley, a student at the Campfire Academy on Olifants West Game Reserve in South Africa. Mobley and her fellow students were disturbed to notice the mother monkey seeming to 'grieve' for her lost offspring.

An image of a vervet monkey. Credit: PA Images

The baby had been stillborn, but the vervet mother reportedly continued to carry around the corpse of her offspring for another 10 days before October 19, when she approached students and they realized what was happening.

By this point, rigor mortis had long since set in, and the cadaver was stiff and mummified as a result of the dry African climate and the rate of decomposition.

Mobley attested that the monkey clung to her dead child and refused to be separated from it. She then gradually began to carry it in her hand, or in her mouth when climbing trees. Despite the overpowering smell, she refused to let go and even continued to groom the corpse.

Watch the heartbreaking footage of the grieving mom monkey holding her dead baby (warning, some may find the footage upsetting): 

A number of primate species, both in the wild and in captivity, apparently experience bereavement over friends and relatives.

According to a May 2016 study published in the zoological journal Primates, barbary macaques living near Ifrane National Park in Morocco were seen to show primitive 'death rituals' which involved grooming and guarding the corpse of a dead female.

On a later occasion, when one infant and a juvenile were killed after being hit by a car, the family of monkeys became extremely agitated, and even screamed in distress when the infant's corpse was taken away.

An image of a vervet monkey. Credit: PA Images

Videos like this one show that we still have a lot to learn from these incredible animals.