Journal of Ethology

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 365–368 | Cite as

Targeted helping by a wild adolescent male chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus): evidence for empathy?

Short Communication


In a unique case where a chimpanzee infant captured by human poachers was returned by researchers to her natal group, an adolescent male helped the injured mother carry her infant on each of 2 days following the return. I explore various hypotheses to explain this behavior and suggest that the apparent recognition of both the infant’s and mother’s needs by the male supports the consideration of empathy in this case. As data accumulate, questions regarding empathy in non-humans should focus on more intricate levels as suggested by DeWaal (Annu Rev Psych 59: 279–300, 2008), rather than adhering to the assertion that empathy is uniquely human.


Empathy Ape Targeted helping Senegal Pan troglodytes verus 


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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