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Chimps in Mourning

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By now, you’ve likely seen Monica Szczupider’s photograph of grieving chimpanzees at Cameroon’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center. The image—which Monica submitted to Your Shot, and which appeared in the November issue of National Geographic magazine—is resonating with people everywhere. Over the last few days, it’s turned up in newspapers, on television, and on blogs worldwide.

Jeremy Berlin interviewed Monica about the deceased chimp Dorothy and her bereaved companions for NGM Blog Central. “Her presence, and loss, was palpable, and resonated throughout the group,” said Monica. “The management at Sanaga-Yong opted to let Dorothy’s chimpanzee family witness her burial, so that perhaps they would understand, in their own capacity, that Dorothy would not return. Some chimps displayed aggression while others barked in frustration. But perhaps the most stunning reaction was a recurring, almost tangible silence. If one knows chimpanzees, then one knows that [they] are not [usually] silent creatures.”

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Photograph by Monica Szczupider