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This page highlights stories and information that shows that animals are capable of grief.

This page is part of a section concerning animal sentience which relates true stories, information and accounts of animal sentience.
For an introduction: Animal Sentience Stories

Emotion Love Altruism Empathy Pleasure Intelligence and ingenuity
Friendship Jealousy Grief Language


 Sixth Sense

Animals Have a Sense of beauty

Animal Morality Mental Health  

Click the links above to go to read stories and information that highlight these characteristics and abilities in animals.


Do animals grieve?  Anyone who has a close relationship with an animal knows the answer to that question without hesitation. The plain and simple fact is that yes animals do grieve the loss of a relative, friend or loved one. For example elephants mourn just like humans, have funerals and treat the dead with reverence. The following link will take you to a video of a very moving elephant funeral

Bereaved ape mothers cling to their departed babies for many days, dogs sink into depression at the loss of their human companion and many animals just like humans may die from grief.

Genuine Grief is displayed by young chimpanzees when their mother dies. There is a famous case in Gomb, in Northeastern Nigeria, of the inconsolable grief of a son for  his mother Flo the matriarch of the troop  who died at 51 years of age. He was eight years old and could easily look after himself but refused to leave his dead mother's side. Within a month he died, he having been unusually attached to his mother.*)

Here is a  story of maternal grief of a captive gorilla for her dead son

Holding the lifeless body of her dead child like a rag doll, this female gorilla stares at the corpse in shock and bewilderment, unable to accept that her baby is dead.

It is a picture of pure grief. Inconsolable, hers is the raw pain of any mother who has lost a child.

While nature may indeed be red in tooth and claw, this moving image of Gana and her dead son Claudio seems to show that members of the animal kingdom can feel the pain of loss just as deeply as we humans.

Read more of this article and view photographs

Look deep into her eyes ... Is she sad or do we just think so? Many scientists now believe that animals feel emotions too.

You can read more in the following article about Gana's grief and the ability of animals to experience grief

A three-month-old baby died in its mother’s arms earlier this month. For hours the mother, Gana, gently shook and stroked her son Claudio, apparently trying to restore movement to his lolling head and limp arms. People who watched were moved to tears — unfazed by the fact that Gana and Claudio were “only” gorillas in Münster zoo, northern Germany.

It wasn’t just witnesses who were moved. A British woman who read about Gana’s loss online posted this comment: “From one bereaved mother to another — Gana, you are in my thoughts. My baby boy died last June and you wouldn’t wish it on any form of life.”

Also read:

Chimpanzee Grief

Marc Bekoff in his book The Animal Manifesto tells the story of the grief of a dog who had befriended a mule.

At a meeting in Palermo, Italy, a biologist told me about his dog, who for twelve years was friends with a mule. After the  mule died, the dog followed the car in which the corpse was being carried, and when the mule was buried, the dog  slowly walked over to the grave of his friend and wailed. The biologist had never seen his dog do this before. The biologist told me that before my lecture on animal emotions, he had been hesitant to tell this story. After all, how could he know what his dog's behaviour meant, if anything? But after hearing stories of animals ranging from turtles to magpies to elephants who displayed grief, he was now certain his dog had also grieved the loss of his longtime friend.

Turtle Love Goes Beyond the Grave

The video below is part of a recent news story about the grief of an Hawaiian sea turtle whom the local residents of Lanikea beach Hawaii called Kuhina.  Laniakea beach is often referred to as “Turtle beach” because this natural sanctuary attracts so many of the endangered Hawaiian Sea Turtle. The tragic slaughter of turtle Honey Girl had increased interest in this endangered species. However what happened shortly after brought dozens of people flocking to the beach to see Kuhina quietly approach the memorial that people had set up for his friend Honey girl.

One women who witnessed this said:

"They had to move the ropes aside so that he could come straight up and put his head right near the memorial, right near the picture and just stayed. .. it was like he was coming to say goodbye."

" Kuhina stayed for hours. Volunteers say it appeared as he he never took his eyes off her picture"


Here is a story from an internet forum concerning the grief of a dog who has lost his mother and his companion.

He Is Heart Broken

I had 3 dogs last year. A mother and son and another little white female. Cookie died last year unexpectedly. She was the mother of M&M, the only dog we have left. A few days ago Candy died. I originally got Candy to keep Cookie company. Now we only have M&M left. He is sooooo sad. He cries all the time now. I have never had a dog go through this before. He has known these two other dogs all of his life. These are the only dogs he has ever known. It just breaks my heart that he is so sad and I don't know what to do to make him feel better.

Click the link below to continue reading the complete entry

Grief of an elderly elephant

Damini an elderly Indian elephant died of grief after Champakali ,a  younger pregnant elephant whom she had befriended died giving birth to a still born a calf. Damini slowly starved herself to death refusing to drink despite the heat. She stood still in the enclosure for days shedding tears until her legs became swollen and she collapsed.

Read more of this moving account:

In the friendship segment on this website you may read read the story of the  Grief of an elephant for her canine friend

A friendship between a dog and an elephant

In the following link you can read about an elephant who kept vigil over her dead friend

An "elephant stands by her dead friend, chasing off predators and lovingly wrapping her trunk around its tusk as she keeps vigil."

Read more includes photographs:

The following is a moving story about the grief of Llamas

"Llamas are gregarious by nature, extremely perceptive, and forge deep bonds with one another. In the pasture, our llamas often feed in the same area, sleep next to each other, and stay close together when they face off an unfamiliar animal or predator. On the trail, they become extremely agitated if they lose sight of each other when one stops to rest and falls behind. They vocalize quite a bit. My favorite is their delicate greeting call, which sounds like a miniature bagpipe exhaling. When my family moved from Colorado to Alaska, we brought our two Colorado llamas with us. As fate would have it, we inherited two Alaska llamas with our new house and grounds. Each twosome had spent their lives together. At first, the twosomes were a bit standoffish, but in time, they became fast friends and a foursome. Several years later, the oldest llama, Boone, died quite suddenly at twenty-seven years old. One day, he laid down on his side, too weak to get up. The next day, his life partner, Bridger, died in the same fashion, next to him. It was early spring and the ground was still frozen, so we hired a friend with a backhoe to prepare their grave just across the fence. We carefully hoisted Boone and Bridger over the fence and into the ground, then covered them. The other pair, Taffy and Pumpernickel, stood by and watched the entire process quietly. For the next two days, stoic Taffy stood across the fence from the grave and stared at the hole in the ground. She barely moved from the spot. Excitable Pumpernickel stayed in his little barn and wailed for two days. On the third day, they emerged from their grieving and resumed their normal activities. Did Bridger surrender himself to death following the loss of his lifelong buddy Boone? And Taffy and Pumpernickel, both very distinct personalities, grieved in their own personal ways. For me, the most moving memory of losing two llamas so close together was experiencing the caring and harmonious llama death and grieving process."

Betsy Webb quoted in

Grief in animals: It's arrogant to think we're the only animals who mourn

Also read about a fox funeral, how a bereaved fox buries her dead mate.

Female Dolphin carried dead baby

There is a strong bond between dolphins and their off spring. Many dolphins will carry around the remains of their dead calves. Recently a female dolphin known by researchers as Potato was seen carrying the remains of her deceased calf, stopping only monetarily before continuing.

Ms Halliday, who works on the Fullers Great Sites boat Tutunui, said dolphins grieved over the loss of a calf and while it was not uncommon for them to carry decaying offspring, actually seeing them was heart-wrenching.
"This behaviour is part of their grieving process and it's their emotional side coming out."

Read more

In July of 2012 Tourists Dolphin watching in the sea near Qinzhou in China's Guangxi Province saw a mother dolphin carrying her dead baby on her back.

Tourist Wang Bin, Said:

'Initially we only spotted an adult dolphin carrying a baby swimming, but when getting close we found the baby had already died with a large opening on its belly. The mother must be heartbroken, but insisted on carrying her baby home.'

Wang also observed that from time to time the baby would slide from the mother's back and that each time this happened the mother would dive to retrieve it and continue her journey.

'No matter how close our boat was, the mother neglected us and picked up her baby again and again from the water and kept going

Read the whole story :

Tourists watch heartbreaking scene of dolphin carrying its dead baby
By Roshina Jowaheer,

And the Daily Mail story:

In mourning: Dolphin photographed carrying the broken body of its baby in heartbreaking ritual

It is a poignant mourning ritual that is rarely seen – and even more rarely captured on camera.
Struggling against the rough seas, a dolphin carries her dead baby on its final journey

Read more and see more photographs:


The article below in The New York Times highlights animal reactions to death other than grief which may be of interest and establishes animals as sentient beings with a variety of rites, rituals and observations concerning death as any human, even down to the mummification of mice who enter a beehive looking for honey only to die in the attempt.

Do Dogs Mourn?
Advice and signs to look for when your dog is grieving

Is this haunting picture proof that chimps really DO grieve?

When  chimpanzee died of heart failure in at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon, West Africa her companions appeared stricken with grief.

Read more and see the amazing photograph as chimps stand in silence as their companion is taken to her rest :

This page  will be updated and added to when further information and stories are found. If you have a story to tell about animal grief please consider including it here by e-mailing Christine Contact


Grief of son for his mother

* I have endeavoured to provide accurate references for stories found on the internet however some of the stories are so frequently repeated that the original source is not easily identifiable. If you see any story here that is yours for which you have not been credited for or have not given permission for its inclusion please Contact me.

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Credit Photo: (c) 2008 by Wanda Embar, Vegan Peace. Picture taken at Farm Sanctuary.

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Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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