Frans de Waal, primatologist and author, most recently, of “Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves”

by | Apr 3, 2019

Dr. Frans de Waal—the primatologist, ethologist, and prolific author, most recently of “Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves”—cites some stories from the new book, in response to a question about a hypothetical person who’s heard about “Mama’s Last Hug,” and remains deeply skeptical about its core premise: that animals experience an array of emotions, just as human animals do. He addresses that sort of skepticism, including the taboos for many years in the scientific community regarding studying—or even acknowledging—animal emotions. He discusses Mama, the book’s titular chimpanzee, recounting the powerful, poignant scene he paints to open the book: Mama, a major, matriarchal figure of a large chimp colony at the Royal Burgers’ Zoo in Holland, was elderly, frail, on her deathbed…and when her old friend, biologist Jan Van Hooff enters, Mama smiled broadly, screamed out happily, reached for Van Hooff’s head, patting him, stroking his hair, appearing to comfort him. Given that the animals mentioned in the book—and the stories that underscore the range of emotions they express—are predominantly captive, he speculates, by way of a question posed to him, about the differences that may exist in emotional responses when the animals are in the wild. De Waal addresses the concept of reconciliation, which drew his interest decades ago, when he was a young student…the phenomenon of (and reasons behind) the disproportionate attention paid to chimpanzees over bonobos from scientists, researchers, writers, and others…and the ongoing question of whether, when dog owners return home to a mess (or worse), and their resident canine might look guilty—is that animal actually feeling guilty? (

ALSO: I spoke with Amber Simpson, one of the organizers of the 9th Annual Tampa Vegan Bake Sale, slated to be held April 13 at Mojo Books & Records, once again setting up a multifaceted Record Store Day. Simpson explains that all proceeds from the Bake Sale are directed to the care of homeless and feral cats. (


COMEDY CORNER:  Julio Torres’ “I Am Vegan” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme, instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play Name That Animal Tune today.


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