Local News

N.C. Zoo Finds Nanny To Mother Rare, Baby Baboon

Posted March 31, 2003

— Workers at the

N.C. Zoological Park

are doing everything possible to save a rare, baby baboon.

"There are only 56 [baboons] right now in captivity, so these little guys are really important," said Cindy Martin, a baboon keeper. "They are replacing the older population that are dying out."

Once, there were lots of baboons in zoos. Fearing overpopulation, keepers sterilized many males in captivity. Doing so had the opposite effect.

"The genetic population, the breeding population of baboons has basically shut down," Martin said.

Since finding a new male baboon, the zoo can boast of three babies. With so few born in recent years, a female baboon who recently gave birth did not know what to do and abandoned her infant.

Zoo keepers needed a nanny.

"The process we went through was to find another female that had babies before to see if she would pick her up and take care of her," Martin said.

Keepers need the baby to stay with the baboon group. If the zoo staff raised the baby, the group probably would not accept her and would kill her. As things turned out, the baby's grandmother fit the job.

Three times a day, keepers bribe the grandmother to allow the baby to eat. The two have formed a bond and the group has accepted a new member.

The zoo currently has 15 baboons, but all are not on display. Keepers are wary of allowing the babies and adult males to be together until the little ones grow bigger.


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