Animals are not people. As much as we love to take certain traits and match them up against our own, most wildlife is just that – untamed and uncontrollable. We merely anthropomorphize their behavior, believing we can learn a little something about nature in general just by making these creatures a little less unpredictable and more like people. Of course, there is always an exception to the rule, and in the great apes, we often find said exclusion. It is said that a scant 4% of DNA differentiates us from our primate cousins, and in this regard, we can truly see the human in such a hulking facade.
In fact, a recent story about a gorilla in Germany proves how close we are as a species, and how we has individuals can see ourselves in even the most arcane of places. Shira, who lives at the Frankfurt Zoo, recently gave birth to a baby girl. All seemed fine until, one day, the infant dropped dead. No explanation. No immediate answer as to why. Now, this was not the first time Shira had given birth and lost the child. She had a son a few months back, but after six months of life, he died of an infection.
The zoo wanted to find out what happened to the female, but her mother kept doing something heartbreaking. Shira could not accept the death of her daughter. For days, she would carry the corpse around with her, shaking the lifeless form as if to wake it from its eternal slumber. She would even sleep with it at night, draping the body over her belly as she rested. It was painful to watch. Gradually, Shira let the keepers take her baby, and an autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death. That doesn’t sound like the actions of a wild animal now, does it?