A case of maternal response towards dead offspring in wild bonobos: Staring, grooming but not carrying
Comparative thanatology is a research branch that scientifically studies death from various perspectives, such as ethologically, physiologically, or psychologically. Research on animal behaviors has been particularly focused on how animals respond to dead conspecifics. In two species of the genus Pan, one of the most well-known responses towards dead conspecifics is the carrying of dead offspring by their mothers. It has been reported that mother chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) have carried their dead infants in Mahale, Bossou, Tai, and Gombe. However, in bonobos (Pan paniscus), there are only a few available reports that mothers also carry their dead offspring. Another type of response by mother bonobos is the eating of the corpses of their dead infants after they carried the corpses. These reports suggest that there is variation in the responses of mothers towards their dead offspring in bonobos, whereas our understanding of such responses is still scarce due to the limited number of observational cases. That is why more observational reports are required for a better understanding of the responses towards dead conspecifics in the genus Pan. Here we report a new case of maternal response towards dead offspring in wild bonobos.