This is Mama, a chimpanzee that lived to be 59 years old and served as the colony’s matriarch at the Royal Burgers Zoo in Arnhem, the Netherlands. The colony is well-known for serving as the foundation for ground-breaking research on monkey behavior, which led to the publication of Frans De Waal’s book Chimpanzee Politics.
She was terminally ill, unable to eat, and approaching the end of her life back in April 2016. Professor of behavioral biology and colony co-founder Jan van Hooff returned to the colony after learning the news in order to visit Mama and offer his condolences. They had a close relationship and had known one other since 1972.
Mama was frail and appeared to be accepting of her impending death at first, so she didn’t recognize Jan. But when she does, everyone can see her emotions, and they are simply stunning.
One week later, Mama died away quietly.