Grief and mourning are more widespread among nonhuman animals (animals) than previously thought (please also see). Today, while riding my bike north of Boulder, I observed an interaction between an adult Black-tailed prairie dog who looked to be a female and a youngster who had been killed by a car. It looked like the accident had happened a few minutes before I happened on the sorrowful scene. I was astounded by what I saw, so I stopped and dictated some notes into my phone that went as follows:
I just watched an adult prairie dog who I think is a female trying to retrieve the carcass of a smaller prairie dog off the road five times – she clearly was trying to remove the carcass from the road – I stopped and finally after the cars stopped she dragged the carcass off the road, walked about 10 feet away, looked at me and looked at the carcass, went back to the carcass and touched it lightly with her forepaws, and walked away emitting a very high-pitched vocalization.
I waited a few minutes to see if she would go back to the carcass and she began to move toward it, looked at me, and stopped — so I left because I didn’t want to disrupt her saying good-bye if that was what she was going to do — minutes later, when I finally caught up with another rider who was about 100 meters ahead of me, he told me he saw her try to remove the carcass from the road twice.
Read more: Mourn