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San Francisco


Primatologist Frans de Waal: Mama’s Last Hug—What Animal Emotions Reveal About Humans

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New York Times best-selling author and primatologist Frans de Waal explores the fascinating world of animal and human emotions. His new book, Mama’s Last Hug, opens with the dramatic farewell between Mama, a dying 59-year-old chimpanzee matriarch, and biologist Jan van Hooff. This heartfelt final meeting of two longtime friends, widely shared as a video, offers a window into how deep and instantly recognizable these bonds can be. So begins Frans de Waal’s whirlwind tour of new ideas and findings about animal emotions, based on his renowned studies of the social and emotional lives of chimpanzees, bonobos and other primates.

De Waal discusses facial expressions, animal sentience and consciousness, Mama’s life and death, the emotional side of human politics, and the illusion of free will. He distinguishes between emotions and feelings, all the while emphasizing the continuity between our species and other species. And he makes 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.

Come for an illuminating discussion about the similarities between animals and humans from a man who has been named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential humans.


In partnership with The Leakey Foundation and the California Academy of Sciences

De Waal photo © Catherine Marin

March 20, 2019

Marines’ Memorial Theatre
609 Sutter St.
San Francisco, 94102
United States

Image - de Waal
Frans de Waal
Primatologist; Professor of Psychology, Emory University; Director, Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Author, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves
Todd Braje
Ph.D., Irvine Chair of Anthropology, California Academy of Sciences—Moderator

5:30 p.m. check-in
6:30 p.m. program
7:30 p.m. book signing