Wednesday, March 30

A Solemn Farewell

South Africa Euthanizes Well-Known Baboon
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South African officials said Friday that they had euthanized the country's most famous baboon, known as Fred, who was well-known for raiding cars and frightening tourists along Cape Town's scenic route.  Read more...

I didn't know Fred. I know a different baboon by that name, which was pure coincidence. Our baboons generally had odd names, which is what happens when someone lets me name anything. On the other hand, there is a cohort of well-known males scattered around the Cape Peninsula, with simple, friendly names like Fred, David, George, and Erik.

Right there is one place this story goes odd. As far as I have ever known, Erik is the most famous male baboon on the Cape Peninsula, since he is incredibly old, but quite active, and apparently manages to maintain legitimate alpha male status among his troop (I've heard that from sources I actually probably can trust), despite being over 20. See, that's old.

Calling Fred a "ringleader" was an odd choice. I suppose that could makes sense from a troop mind perspective, but I'm sure that wasn't what was running through the author's mind when he wrote it. I suppose that the paragraph is technically not incorrect, but they sure made the event sound like some kind of tactical black ops mission:
"In 2009, Fred led a group of 29 baboons in a four-car raid outside Simon's Town, a small coastal neighborhood. The baboon chief used his signature tactic of opening unlocked doors and jumping through windows to search for food, while the rest looked for access inside from car roofs and hoods."
Last time was in 2009? I assure you those baboons raided much more recently than that. Its such an odd paragraph for anyone who knows anything. Its like the author googled "Fred baboon Cape Town" and only looked at the first news result that cropped up.

However, if opening car doors truly was Fred's signature move, then I might have seen him on one of his raids while driving past Simon's Town. A large male opened someone's back door and stole their sandwich and bag of crisps. On the other hand, I've seen an awful lot of baboons try (and sometimes succeed at) opening car doors, so I would not consider this behavior to be any baboon's signature.

Nevertheless, it is as the baboon management group says, "this baboon's demise can be contributed mainly to the continuous misguided efforts by humans to befriend and feed baboons." See you space... monkey.

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