The heart-warming moment a chimp plays ‘airplane’ with its baby

It’s a moment of tender playfulness that many families can relate to; mom or dad lying on their back with a child balanced on their feet, rocking gently for a game of ‘airplane.’

But in this case, it isn’t two humans sharing the loving moment.

The Tai Chimpanzee Project captured footage of an adorable interaction between an adult and juvenile chimpanzee, as the adult bounces the younger ape in what appears to be their own version of the game – albeit with a lot more turbulence.

Researchers with the project posted the heart-warming video of the pair on YouTube this week.

And, just when you think it can’t get any cuter, the adult brings the child in for a warm hug, before the two roll around on the ground together.

It’s just the latest reminder how of, in many ways, these great apes are a lot like us.

Interactions with other chimps early in life is an important part of young chimpanzees’ learning process, much like human children, and watching others can help to shape their own behavior in the future.  

A study published in 2015 found that they can even learn kindness and compassion by watching examples of altruism in their communities.

The researchers observed the ‘prosocial’ actions of children aged 4-8, and those of adults, chimpanzees, and capuchin monkeys.

This included helping others, sharing, and cooperating.

And, they found that some children and chimps who hadn’t initially showed kindness were more generous after being partnered with others who were observed to have these behaviors.

‘A regard for the welfare of others is seen as a cardinal human virtue,’ said Professor Andrew Whiten from the University of St Andrews, at the time.

‘By contrast, several recent scientific studies have concluded that the same dispositions are lacking in our closest living primate relatives.

‘The results of our research provide the first evidence that both children and chimpanzees share common traits of altruism that are learned as a direct result of experiencing the kindness of others.’



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