Gorilla baby and mother share tender moments together
Gorillas are incredible animals with intellect and emotion. When we look at them, we can't help but be reminded of ourselves. They are capable of facial expressions, as well as gestures and behaviours that resemble humans a great deal. But many people claim that animals are incapable of emotions and the complex social bonds between individuals that come with emotions. Social bonds and caring for offspring are explained as mere instinct by those who feel that animals lack emotion.
These gorillas behave in a way that suggests otherwise. While the mother's instinct to feed her young or the baby's instinct to seek milk from his mother are behaviours that do not necessarily require emotion, the other subtle behaviours seem to be far more than instinct.
This devoted mother holds her baby close and gently strokes his head. She cuddles with him in a very affectionate way. The tender expression and loving contact is more than just instinct. It seems to be fulfilling an emotional need for both. The mother may also be recognizing the baby's need for comfort and reassurance. This is unselfish behaviour that requires a level of compassion and understanding of the emotional needs of the baby.
We are only beginning to recognize the complex thought processes that are demonstrated by the animals around us. And we are learning more and more that the emotions that we think set us apart may be more widespread than we once believed.