(Papio hamadryas)

Baboons are a type of Old World monkey. There are five species of baboons – Hamadryas, olive, chacma, Guinea and gelada. We have the first two species at the Bowmanville Zoo. Baboons are one of the largest primates, only Great Apes are bigger.

Baboons live in groups of up to 400 individuals. Living in groups on the open grasslands gives them the advantage against predators – more eyes to watch out for danger! Lions, hyenas, wild dogs and martial eagles all prey on baboons but its most deadly enemy is the leopard. At night baboons sleep high up in trees or rocky cliff faces as protection against predators, but the leopard is almost as good a climber as the baboon and can hunt them almost everywhere!

Baboons in the wild are omnivores and like us will eat anything! Fruits, vegetable, shoots, seeds, leaves, small animals and eggs. They can also hunt down and kill animals like young antelopes!

Currently the Bowmanville Zoo has a troop of 8 Baboons.

Facts & Myths

  • Baboons were worshiped by the Ancient Egyptians and were even mumified after their death. The baboon God in ancient Egyptian mythology was called Anubis and was a God of knowledge.
  • The ancient Egyptians also trained baboons to perform tasks around the temple and participate in religious ceremonies.
  • A disabled railway man in South Africa trained his pet baboon to descend from the railway signal box to pull the levers to switch the tracks! His name was Jack, and he helped his owner run the railway junction – his story is very famous! We are not making this up. You can read about it by clicking here.
  • Baboons are like us in many ways, unfortunately they also have some of our bad habits. In Zimbabwe baboons cause significant damage to agricultural crops. Eating maize and fruit is to be expected but the baboons also raid the tobacco crops to eat it too! YUK!
  • Baboons are the dog headed men encountered by ancient explorers!
  • Baboons communicate with different facial gestures and vocalizations. They are all different from ours. For example a yawn is a threat showing the owners huge teeth! Lip smacking is a baboon hello and to bond the troop grooming takes place between all the troop members.