Mama’s Last Hug opens with the moving farewell between Mama, a dying chimpanzee matriarch, and her human friend, a professor who inspired the author’s work. Their parting, the video of which has been watched by millions online, is not only a window into the deep bonds they shared, but into the remarkable emotional capacities of animals.
In this groundbreaking and entertaining book, primatologist Frans de Waal draws on his renowned studies of the social and emotional lives of chimpanzees, bonobos and other primates, and personal encounters with many other species, to illuminate new ideas and findings about animal emotions: joy, grief, shame, love, pain and happiness.
Exploring the facial expressions of animals, human and animal politics, and animal consciousness, de Waal illustrates how profoundly we have underestimated animals’ emotional experiences. He argues that emotions occupy a far more significant place in the way we organise our societies than a more rationalist approach would advocate. His radical proposal is that emotions are like organs: humans haven’t a single organ that other animals don’t have, and the same can be said of our emotions.