Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Mama's Last Hug; Frans de Waal

AUTHOR:  Frans de Waal
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Netherlands
FORMAT:  - print/library
RATING - 4.5/5

For some 40 years the author has studied animal behavior and emotions. In his latest book, Mama's Last Hug were are introduced to a Mama, a 59 year old matriarch chimp who was dying. Mama and biologist Jan van Hooff had formed a bond over the years so he decided to visit her for one last time before her death. Mama's keen facial recognition and happiness at seeing Jan's face resulted in smiles, and her patting his neck repeatedly in a hug, much as we'd see in human to human interactions.  The interaction between Mama and Jan were filmed and went viral evidencing that humans are not the only ones capable of expressing emotion.

After Mama's death, her adopted daughter Geisha stood vigil and would not leave Mama even for food, demonstrating the animals are also capable of grieving.  Grieving in animals does require an attachment so when a pet dies, others animals may not appear to miss the deceased unless they were bonded. This is true of cats, dogs and even elephants as well.

Another chimp has lost her babies several times over due to insufficient lactation. When her babies, failing to thrive, had died, the chimp went into a severe depression, screaming, refusing food and rubbing eyes with its fists.

There was such a wealth of information in this book. Well researched, moving and even funny at times; there are even some illustrations throughout the book.  The subjects researched were not just chimps and bonobos but, birds, rats, dogs, horses and elephants as well.  I was fascinated by this book and found myself reading it very slowing, so that this one would stick with me for sometime. Animal lovers should give this one a try.


  1. This book sounds fascinating. I think many animals have a rich inner life

  2. I can see why you were fascinated!

  3. This is on my list to read so I'm happy to know that you enjoyed it so much.

  4. The animal kingdom certainly is amazing; I think there is so much we don't know and understand.

    1. I agree Helen. Studying animals really does seem fascinating.

  5. I have had my eye on this one! Glad you enjoyed it! As someone who has had multiple pets since the day I was born, and also worked in the pet industry for awhile, I have witnessed much intelligence and unexpected emotions in sentient beings other than humans. Thanks.

    1. I agree that some people don't realize just how smart animals are.

  6. Diane, I was away form blogging for about a week due to travel.
    This sounds like such a wonderful book. The title and cover have already stolen my heart. Terrific review!


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