Scientists Successfully Teach Gorilla It Will Die Someday

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Tulane University researchers have successfully taught a captive gorilla that he will die one day. The gorilla, named Quigley, is now able to experience the crippling fear of impending death previously only accessible to humans.

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Gaah. When I saw the "headline", I started to *snarl* until I saw that it was from the Onion. In any case, as per a recent mailing from the Gorilla Foundation, their Koko understands the permanence (and gravity) of death perfectly well -- her first cat got into the road and was hit by a car.

Even dogs and cats can understand that death is permanent ... the key point there is they need to know that their former companion is in fact dead, not just absent!. Over on Making Light a couple of pet owners have mentioned making sure the other pets were present for a euthanization. More interesting, one commenter couldn't manage to actually bring the other pets (too many, IIRC), but she brought a towel or the like for the euthanized pet to lie on during the process. Upon smelling the blanket, the surviving pets seemed to get the news immediately, and made no attempt to look for their missing friend.

By David Harmon (not verified) on 05 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ha! The first thing I did was check the date (April 1?) Then, straight to comments. Got me good.

David Harmon: "Even dogs and cats can understand that death is permanent ... the key point there is they need to know that their former companion is in fact dead, not just absent!."

Can you back that assertion up by anything other than the most credulous of anecdotal evidence? The example you offer sounds to me like confirmation bias from hell.

David Harmon: "Even dogs and cats can understand that death is permanent ... the key point there is they need to know that their former companion is in fact dead, not just absent!."

Can you back that assertion up by anything other than the flimsiest of anecdotal evidence? The example you offer sounds to me like confirmation bias from hell.

Sorry, double posting.

Dear Researchers: Why in the WORLD would you seriously entertain the thought of teaching Quigley "the crippling fear of impending death" ? Surely, amid the vast knowledge available to you, there just might have been a more suitable, or at least more worthwhile, subject. Murray

By Murray Hansen (not verified) on 05 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm curious, Murray ... did you really watch the video? You see, your comment is far funnier if you actually did watch the video (although it is funny nonetheless).

don't forget: there are two sorts of scientists in the world; the clueless geeky scientists and the mad, evil scientists. i guess the scientists in the video are the second sort.

(i kinda wonder what happens to mad, evil scientists who are unemployed for years? where do they go and what do they do?)

crazy scientists.. but i'd like to thank them, because I understood the main problem of human civilization. It is fear of death.
Isnt it?