Wildlife TV

Learn interesting and funny plant and animal facts with videos and photos

How do baby Chacma Baboons survive?

on June 21, 2013

By now I believe we’ve established that baby animals are cute and no one can deny it. You might even remember that on my first entry about baby animals I presented a study that showed that viewing cute animal pictures increases work performance.
Humans in particular seem to be very fond of viewing and interacting with babies of various species, particularly mammals. These furry little creatures are born with certain traits that evoke an emotional response in us and their species. That response can be maternal, paternal or fraternal and triggers a need to protect and care for the infants.
Humans are known to adopt animals of other species as pets and from our own species as family members but we are not the only mammals that do this deliberately.
Some baboon species kidnap and raise feral dogs as pets in certain areas of the world. This peculiar behaviour has been already documented on video and it’s quite interesting to look at.



Chacma Baboon Infants

Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus) family. Male, female and baby monkey.

Chacma Baboon male, female and infant.
Photo Credit

Chacma Baboons (Papio ursinus) are the largest monkey species in South Africa. They usually live in the savannah in big groups called troops composed of several males, females, juveniles and infants. Baboons in general can be quite aggressive and dangerous and male baboons are known to have canine teeth longer than a lion’s canine teeth which can be quite a scary experience.

But back to the topic, why are chacma baboons so special? How do chacma Baboon infants survive?

Despite their ferocious and aggressive behaviour towards members of their own species, these African monkeys display a very unusual behaviour; they have been observed adopting orphan baby monkeys from their own group and caring for the young as their own. This is an extremely uncommon behaviour for any animal.

Why would an animal use their own resources to provide food, shelter, protection and groom an infant that shares almost no genetic similarity with them? What can they possibly gain from this?

Female Chacma Baboon (Papio ursinus) with baby monkey

Female Chacma Baboon with infant.
Photo Credit

It seems that the best explanation is that these baby monkeys will serve as “guinea pigs” for future parents. The adults can train their parental skills on infants that are not related to them and when they have their own offspring they will be more equipped to deal with any problems and dangers thus ensuring that their own bloodline survives.
For the majority of orphans from any other species, once the mother passes away the young has little to no chances of survival. Lactating females won’t allow them to nurse to make sure that their own infants survives, the group won’t protect them and they will have no one to groom or shelter them during cold nights. Most animal orphans will last a few days before dying of starvation, disease or cold if they are not preyed upon before.

Chacma baboon newborns are lucky in that aspect. Even if they do lose their mother, chances are they will be adopted by another member of the troop, either male or female, and be taken care of until old enough to fend for themselves.

And it is easy to see why they would choose to adopt an orphan baby monkey.


How could you say “no” to a face like this?

Baby Chacma Baboon (Papio ursinus) being silly

Baby Chacma Baboon
Photo Credit


I hope you liked learning about the amazing world of baby baboons.
Do you want to find out how baby impalas and other animals survive?
Check out our “Series” page for the list of “Baby Animals: How do they survive?


Até à próxima!

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