There’s nothing more heartbreaking than knowing you will lose a friend. But this man had to pay a last visit to his best friend, a 59-year-old chimpanzee. The moments were filmed, showing how strong was the bond between the scientist and the chimp he’s known for decades.
We have watched the heart-wrenching video and knew we had to find out more about the story behind the last goodbye…
20. A Touching Moment
The video posted on YouTube showing a man hugging his old friend has brought tears to everyone who’s watched it and it’s obvious why… Mama, the 59-year-old Chimp was old and lost her will to fight for her life…
19. The Oldest Chimp in Europe
Mama lived in the chimp colony in the Royal Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem, Netherlands. She was the oldest chimp in Europe and was the matriarch of her colony. One day, Mama could no longer fight old age, so she just rested on her bed, waiting.
18. Refusing Food and Water
Mama was very sick and didn’t want to eat food or drink water. Even if the staff tried to use a syringe to keep her hydrated, Mama was no longer willing to live. She laid curled up on her straw bed. But then, she received a visit…
17. Good Old Friend
Professor Jan van Hooff is a Dutch biologist and a professor of behavioral biology at Utrecht University. He was told that Mama was soon going to die, so he headed straight to see the old chimp. Guess when they first met!
16. Building a Long Lasting Friendship
Hooff founded the chimp colony at the Royal Burgers’ Zoo. He researched primates and this is how he first met Mama in 1972. Seeing his old friend in her bed, Hooff got on his knees and approached the sick chimp. He gently strokes her…
15. Accepting Food
Mama was lethargic and when Hooff hands her some food, she takes it without looking at him. When she looks up, her whole apathy seems to vanish. You won’t believe what she does when she sees her human friend!
14. Mama Smiles and Hugs Her Friend
Looking up and seeing her old friend, Mama starts smiling and making high pitched noises, showing she’s very happy. She then starts brushing Hooff’s hair, looking into his eyes. There’s no doubt the professor had a strong bond with the old chimp…
13. The Last Hug
After realizing that her human friend is with her, Mama embraced Hooff in a warm hug. She wouldn’t let go of him, tapping his back, as if she was trying to reassure him it’s all going to be alright. Mama was dying…
12. Saying Goodbye
Mama was probably relieved she saw her best friend for the last time. She finally died on April 5, 2016, a week after saying goodbye to Hooff. Here is what Hoff said about Mama on the Zoo’s website.
11. Everyone Knew Mama
‘Many people I have given tours to, after lectures and with training courses, have known her,’ said Hooff. And when she saw him, she would immediately head toward him. This is what she’d do…
10. Happy to Greet Her Friend
‘Mama always came running towards me from the farthest corners to excitedly greet me from the other side of the moat in chimpanzee language with a loud panting ‘oohooh!’’said Hooff. But in her last year, it got too difficult…
9. We’ll Miss Mama
‘This past year it became more and more difficult. Each time it took her longer before stumbling she reached the moat. I will definitely miss her,’ added Hooff. People on YouTube saw the emotional moments and soon reacted… This is what they said.
8. A Heartbreaking Goodbye
‘Absolutely beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Wow,’ said one person. Another one commented that it made him ‘weep like a baby. As a 31-year-old male it’s hard to cry.’ And who wouldn’t cry when they knew that it would be the last goodbye?
7. The Professor’s 80th Birthday
Prof. Jan van Hooff’s 80th birthday was on 5 June 2016, a couple of months after Mama died. The event was celebrated by the Burgers’ Zoo and he received a painting of Mama. It was a beautiful gift, especially since Mama’s passing was tough on everybody.
6. An Amazing Present
Gonny de Weerd – the artist, used newspaper clippings on the background that told stories of Mama, Jan, and the colony. She said that she was very proud to see that her painting was given to the professor and that ‘A better destination is not thinkable!’.
Curious to see how Mama looked like when she was younger? Check out the following photos…
5. Mama Became Famous in 1971
Mama was born in the wild in 1957 and she lived a few years at the German Zoo of Leipzig. She then formed a chimpanzee colony in Arnhem, and would soon become famous all over the world. Here’s why…
4. Reaching the Books
Mama’s personality was soon discovered by Frans de Waal, who in his famous book ‘Chimpanzee politics’, he said that Mama was ‘the oldest and undoubtedly most dangerous female of the troop.’ After she died, Frans talked about her again.
3. She Was a Dominant Female
The behavioral scientist Frans de Waal worked with Mama and he said that ‘she had an exceptionally strong and dominant personality so that no man who wanted to come to power could do so around her.’ But she would also do this…
2. The Leader of the Group
‘She also brought consolation when there were tensions and mediated conflicts,’ continued the scientist. This was indeed the description of a great ruler: a strength of character to lead and also the ability to calm conflicts when needed.
1. It’s a Rare Character
Frans de Waal ends his eulogy, stating that Mama ‘will be sorely missed, also by me, because I have rarely seen such an admirable character in both humans and apes.’
It’s good to know that Mama lived a long happy life and thought humans a lot about her kind. She’s been loved by everyone, especially by the professor that she finally got to say goodbye to.