Many people have wrote that there is no such thing as altruism. I must admit that I have also always thought the same thing..even though I continued to search for one such act. I have often been the lone arguer pointing out that no one has been able to uncover a single example of true altruism...in a natural setting or in the human race. I am now rescinding my previous statement. I have for a very long time..searched for an example that I could in some way attribute to altruism..and until now I have been unsuccessful. I suppose all examples are based upon your own definition of altruism. I learned many years ago that altruism is an act done by an individual at a cost..benefiting another individual not of relation to the one performing the act.
The said example concerns a chimpanzee and a human. A researcher was following a group of chimpanzees in the jungle. After some hours, he found that he had forgotten his lunch back at the research station. This researcher then proceeded to try to knock down fruit from a tree some distance from where the group of chimpanzees sat eating their mid-day meal. It has been noted that after some time of unsuccessful attempts to acquire fruit... a young male from the group collected some fruits from a tree and climbed down toward the researcher. The chimpanzee then proceeded to approach the researcher and leave the fruit for the researcher.
This instance has been noted as a true act of altruism by any definition since the chimpanzee was not of relation to the researcher (not in the last 1000 years at least) and this act was a cost to itself with no benefit. Therefore, I stand corrected on the notion of altruism...it seems to exist after all.
Compassion, Rescue and the Altruism Debate, The emotional lives of animals Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy.