The mother of a dead baby chimpanzee -- which was fatally mauled by an adult male ape in front of a crowd at the Los Angeles Zoo this week -- has been given time to grieve.
The mother, Gracie, was recovering after her nearly 4-month-old baby girl was killed by an adult male chimp on Tuesday. Zoo official said the male chimp had shown no previous signs of aggression.
The troop was separated into two groups, and the baby’s body was removed Thursday after Gracie had been allowed two days to cradle the dead infant in a private area. Gracie’s own mother was at her side.
"In the wild, a Mom might carry her baby dead for days or weeks as it decomposes. But she’s not ready to make that separation," said Dr. Craig Stanford, a primatologist who studied chimpanzee behavior for 15 years.
"I would assume Gracie spent that time holding and grooming the baby and probably trying to understand what happened, and is the baby going to wake up," Stanford said.
He compared the process to what humans do to "get some closure.”
Some zoo visitors have expressed concerns that the baby wasn’t protected against squabbles like the one that killed it.
But zoo officials said the baby was carefully and slowly introduced to the troop. The still-unnamed baby was originally unveiled in the public exhibit on May 18.
“The risk is extremely small that something bad is going to happen. It rarely does, but I think in no way should anybody construe there was some problem with the animal care issue here,” says Stanford.
Zoo officials say Gracie will slowly be re-integrated back to the troop. Stanford believes the chimps, who’ve known each other for years, will likely find a way to reconcile.
"As with human society, when bad things happen, life goes on and harmony does eventually prevail," says Stanford.