Muller continued her observations, and later that day, Muller counted 23 female giraffes in the same area near the infant's body. "This time I observed the adult females [including F008] approaching the carcass and 'nudging' it with their muzzles, then lifting their heads to look around before bending down to nudge it again," she said. (You can watch a video of the giraffes response to the dead calf here).
By nightfall, 15 adult females all clustered around the carcass, staying even closer to the body than during the daytime, and female giraffes continued to surround the carcass throughout the entire next day.
On the third day after the calf's death, Muller wrote that she noticed F008 finally moved: "[S]he seemed to have left the carcass for the first time since it had died and she had moved to stand under a large tree approximately 50 meters away from it."
However, Muller quickly realized she had overlooked something:
She discovered that the calf's carcass had been half eaten by predators and subsequently dragged under that large tree - the exact location where the mother was standing.
Muller says she found the observations fascinating. "I [had] never seen anything like this in wild giraffe," she said. (Muller notes that similar behavior has ultimately been observed by colleagues in Zambia and Tanzania.)
Muller says she doesn't want to codify the behavior as "mourning," but wrote in her report that it certainly echoes another mammal famous for grieving his family and friends: the elephant. "It is well documented that elephants show great interest in the carcasses and bones of other dead elephants and herd members, often viewed as evidence of their empathic nature and ability to 'mourn' their dead," she says.
"Giraffe are highly social creatures," she continues in the report, "but we are only just beginning to understand the complexities of their social systems and family networks. This incident [F008] provides us a unique insight into one aspect of giraffe behavior that we are rarely afforded a glance of - that of family ties and effects of the loss of a herd member."
In 2011, a remarkable video emerged of a mother giraffe attacking a pride of lions shortly after they take her calf. "It shows the risk that female giraffes will put themselves under to protect their offspring," comments Muller, who calls the footage "incredible."