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November 28 2012

A gorilla in the midst â of emotional rebirth?


In the Central African Republic, a female western lowland gorilla runs through a cloud of butterflies. She capers, if a gorilla can be said to caper. The other gorillas in her group carry on feeding, ignoring her.

It is in stark contrast to the week before: the capering gorilla, named Malui, had given birth to a stillborn fetus. It would have been Malui's fourth offspring, and Makumba, the silverback's, thirteenth. "Malui tried to revive the baby and even tried to get it to suckle," says wildlife photographer Anup Shah, who was watching the animals at the Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve. What happened next was unusual. Malui's daughter, Mosoko, started grooming her. "Since grooming is rare, it probably signifies something profound," says Shah. "Was the daughter telling her mother that she understood her grief?"

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