The viral video of the chimpanzee Mama embracing her friend—biologist Jan van Hooff—one final time before her death touched the hearts of millions. Renowned biologist Frans de Waal captures the essence of that story in Mama’s Last Hug, asserting that humans are not the only species with the capacity for love, hate, fear, shame, guilt, joy, disgust, and empathy. De Waal makes his way to Town Hall’s stage for a fascinating exploration of the rich emotional lives of animals. He offers the radical proposal that emotions are like organs: we don’t have a single organ that other animals don’t have, and the same is true for our emotions. He discusses facial expressions, the emotions behind human politics, the illusion of free will, animal sentience, and—of course—Mama’s life and death. Join de Waal for a story that opens our hearts and minds to the many ways in which humans and other animals are connected, and a shared message of continuity between us and other species.
Frans de Waal has spent four decades at the forefront of animal research. He has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, and he is the author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, among many other works. He is the C. H. Candler Professor in Emory University’s Psychology Department and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.