Mama’a Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves by Frans de Waal
is a beautiful breath of fresh air for those of us who live with animals and often find ourselves explaining to non-animal people the behaviors of our beloved pets. These behaviors to us are easy to interpret, most of the time. As pet owners, we often say our pets have emotions and can even sense our own moods. We might get an eye-roll or a sideways glance from our non-pet owning friends or family members because they just don’t understand. Frans de Waal is trying to understand but with science.
Frans de Waal isn’t interested so much in the everyday house cat or dog. His focus is more on the behaviors of Primates and no, I am not talking about humans. Although, we do fit into this research. He writes about recognizing ourselves in them. He writes about the relationship between the Chimpanzee Mama with not only her family group but her handlers as well. The relationship between chimpanzees was not just about eating and mating. It was a whole hierarchy of social structure similar to groups of humans, in some ways. Not all of the behavior was mimicked behavior, either. There were form, rules, and status within the groups that to the average viewer would look like chaos. The more he and others watched them, the more they learned there was a reason for what appeared to be chaos was in fact, a social order being run by Mama. The Alpha Female.
He writes about how chimpanzees handle death. How they comfort each other and how they mourn the loss. This, to me, was one of the most interesting parts of the book. We all have heard the stories of dogs, cats and even wild animals standing guard over the body of a deceased group/pack member. Frans De Waal brings some interesting points as to why this takes place.
This is a well-written book, easy to follow, and interesting. It is packed full of great stories and personal accounts. I recommend this to anyone who is fascinated with animal sciences or loves animals in general.
Thank you to W.W. Norton & Company, and Frans de Waal for sending me this great book to review. I am looking forward to the next one. Thank you for the ARC won on Goodreads.