Thursday, March 18

Friends with benefits

Damian has continued to maintain his unusually good ties with Lauren for the past few months, and this relationship doesn't appear to be dying down anytime soon, if one looks at all the obstacles they've mounted thus far.

Its been found that Damian is not exclusive with Lauren. Recently, another timid young female by the name of Reyna has gone in and out of estrus, and Damian chose to consort with her. Lauren got this time "off," which I first observed when she was scene interacting with other females for the first time in months. One of those situations where you look and think, I don't know that baboon, and then puzzle over it for a few minutes before face-palming over the obvious answer.

Nevertheless, at the end of the affair, Lauren returned to Damian's side. She remains even now, despite the fact that she is clearly pregnant, and Damian has no need to worry about guarding her swelling or her child. He could leave her to her own devices and return later to guard their child, but he keep her exclusive, and the two show no signs of giving up their status as the weird, reclusive couple of the troop.

They would have had some competition for that title, had not a similar turn of events lead the other pair away. Chester, one of the old males (probably the oldest male in the area) has always had a fondness for Eunice, a female of little consequence. Chetser, Eunice, and her baby would often be seen at the periphery, alone, grooming one another and playing with the baby. None of them have been so rigidly withdrawn as Damian and Lauren. Chester is a genial old male, and often has a small pack of infants following him around. He's like the friendly neighborhood grandpa. He's very protective of his playgroup, too.

But, when Chester decides to go for a rest, often he'll go to Eunice and her child and settle down for a nap right next to them.
Adorable baby baboon not pictured. That would have been too much to fit into a single photo, I guess.
Similarly, Eunice will actually mingle with the rest of the troop, unlike Lauren. Neither half of this pair is the most social of baboons, but neither are they they the token reclusive couple, ala Damian and Lauren. Then again, there's also Wilhelmina, who is the oldest and shyest female anyone has ever seen. She grunts like a male, her voice is so worn out.

I suppose the child must be Chester's - it seems very strange that Chester would favor this single infant over the others. Perhaps this is what will happen between Damian and Lauren when her child is born.

There is another possibility: Eunice is Chester's daughter. Since females stay in one troop throughout their entire lifetimes, and Chester is old as sin, this is quite reasonable, and the possibility makes incest discussions even more fun. Oooh! Maybe he's the father of both of them. It would be like the baboon version of Chinatown. What I wouldn't give to have full genetic data for these troops.

So Damian and Lauren had their reclusive title locked up pretty securely in the first place, but now its completely inconsequential because Chester, Eunice, and her infant have vanished.

Okay, that's blowing it a bit out of proportion. A couple weeks after Mortimer pulled his stunt, I began to wonder what Chester was up to when I didn't remember seeing him. One morning I received a call from a colleague up the mountain, "I've spotted Chester up with the troop here, and, uh, Eunice is here with her baby as well."

It was odd enough for an old male like Morty to switch it up, but an old guy, his filly, and their young ward? If I were the mother, I'd be pretty afraid for the life of my baby upon entering a foreign troop filled with testosterone bloated males just dying to spread their genes around some more. That's some impressive loyalty to follow your male into the hornet's nest... of other males.

I wish the news had been more surprising, but the funny thing is that this isn't the first time Chester and Eunice have eloped together. The previous occasion was before my time, but I gather it was quite similar. One day, the two of them went off to the second troop and stayed there for about a month. Then they came back. I really hope they come back soon, I miss that old guy already...

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