The findings, published on Monday in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the socio-emotional framework commonly applied to children works equally well for apes and can be used to test predictions of great ape behaviour.

Researchers from Emory University employed video analysis to show bonobos at a sanctuary near Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, handle their own emotions as well as how they react to the emotions of others. They found bonobos that recovered quickly and easily from their own emotional upheavals, such as after losing a fight, and showed more empathy for their fellow great apes.

Those bonobos more often gave body comfort such as kissing, embracing, touching to those in distress, the researchers said. Bonobo, one of our closest primate relatives, is as genetically similar to humans as is the chimpanzee and widely considered the most empathic great ape.


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