Mourning baboons seek comfort from friends

January 30, 2006

University of Pennsylvania scientists say when baboons lose a close associate they do as humans might -- they seek support from their friends.

According to the researchers, baboons physiologically respond to bereavement in ways similar to humans, with an increase in stress hormones called glucocorticoids. Baboons can lower their glucocorticoid levels through friendly social contact, expanding their social network after the loss of specific close companions.

Penn post-doctoral researcher Anne Engh worked with Penn biologist Dorothy Cheney and Psychology Professor Robert Seyfarth who, for 14 years, have followed a troop of more than 80 free-ranging baboons in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.

Engh said while the death of a close family member was clearly stressful over the short term, the females they studied appeared to compensate by broadening and strengthening their grooming networks. As they resumed grooming, their glucocorticoid levels returned to normal.

"Our findings do not necessarily suggest that baboons experience grief like humans do, but they do offer evidence of the importance of social bonds amongst baboons," Engh said.

The findings appeared in a recent article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Meet the wild animals who put their partners first (just don't call it love)

Related Stories

Close social ties make baboons better mothers

June 10, 2009

Baboons whose mothers have strong relationships with other females are much more likely to survive to adulthood than baboons reared by less social mothers, according to a new study by researchers at UCLA, the University of ...

Baboons, Humans Adapted Similarly to Malaria (w/ Video)

June 24, 2009

( -- Evolutionarily speaking, baboons may be our more distant cousins among primates. But when it comes to our experiences with malaria over the course of time, it seems the stories of our two species have followed ...

Recommended for you

Amazon deforestation leaps 16 percent in 2015

November 28, 2015

Illegal logging and clearing of Brazil's Amazon rainforest increased 16 percent in the last year, the government said, in a setback to the aim of stopping destruction of the world's greatest forest by 2030.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.