Mama the chimpanzee and Jan van Hooff, a renowned emeritus professor of behavioral biology at Utrecht University and co-founder of the Burgers colony, have a close relationship.
He became her caregiver in 1972, and that is when their relationship began.
Mama, the 59-year-old chimp, was getting close to the end of her life, and Hooff thought it was imperative to pay her a last visit.
Mama was not your average chimpanzee; she was the matriarch of the chimpanzee colony at the Royal Burgers Zoo in Arnhem, Netherlands, and the oldest.Frans de Waal described her as holding a significant social role in his depiction of “Chimpanzee Politics.”
As she grew older, Mama’s health quickly declined. She was in a terrible situation, rejecting food and drink, and laying immobile and coiled up, about a week before she passed away.
But something changed the instant she realized he was there. Her glowing grin told us that the sight of her old acquaintance had caused a surge of emotions in her. She let out a happy yell and reached for Hooff’s hand as soon as he called out to her.