Whenever animals are seen grieving the dead, we sit up and take notice. In August 2018, an orca calf died off the coast of Vancouver Island, and its mother, Tahelqua, kept its corpse with her for 17 days straight. The images made news around the world. Two years ago, at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphange Trust in Zambia, a female chimp named Noel attempted to clean the teeth of her dead adopted son Thomas, dubbed a “mortuary ritual” by many. Elephants are famed for visiting the remains of dead family members, stroking their bones or at times rocking back and forth in what resembles a “vigil”.

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