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|Common Name:||Guinea baboon||Family:||Cercopithecidae|
|Latin Name:||Papio papio||Diet:||Herbivore|
|Native To:||Africa||Social Unit:||Group|
|IUCN Red List Status:||Near threatened|
Guinea baboon photo by
Guinea baboons at Edinburgh Zoo
Here at Edinburgh Zoo we have a large group of Guinea baboons: as of May 2010, we have twenty females, thirteen males and four unsexed youngsters. They came to us in July 2009 from Paris and since arriving four infants have been born. The young baboons can often be seen playing and chasing each other around their enclosure.
Fatou, a female that was born in 1991, is the oldest of the group. Of the females, Mzima is the alpha. This means she is the most powerful and respected female of the group. Mzima was born in 1998.
Having such a large group of baboons means that the keeping staff are always thinking of new ways to enrich their environment to keep them stimulated both physically and mentally. With this many individuals to cater for, this means environmental enrichment on a grand scale! You can see the April 2010 video of our Guinea baboons being introduced to their newly refurbished enclosure with lots of enrichment at the Edinburgh Zoo YouTube channel.
Baboons are very destructive so we give them lots of leafy browse (branches) so that they can strip the bark down and eat the juicy leaves. We also fill paper sacks and boxes with straw and small food treats such as raisins or sunflower seeds and hang them around the enclosures so that the baboons can destroy the bags and receive a tasty treat at the end. We have also discovered that they love our homemade frozen ice pops – fruit juice frozen with lots of tasty baboon treats inside!
All of their food is scattered and hidden around their enclosures, inside and outside, and sometimes is left whole, other times it is chopped into small pieces. This encourages natural foraging behaviours and also means that all individuals in the group have an equal chance to feed.
Watch out for them filling their cheek pouches with food. This enables the baboons to store their food for later whilst still foraging for more.
Where it can be found at Edinburgh Zoo
Our guinea baboon enclosure can be found opposite the Monkey House, on the west side of the park.
Guinea baboons in the wild
Guinea baboons (Papio papio) have a wide range throughout Africa and can be found in Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone. This species of baboon is the smallest of the entire baboon family.
Guinea baboons live in large troops made up of adult males and females and their offspring of varying ages. The majority of their time is spent on the ground and they can easily travel long distances on all fours. After a gestation period of approximately seven months, the adult female gives birth to a single infant. The lifespan of the Guinea baboon is approximately forty years.
Bark, buds, bulbs, cereals, flowers, fruit, grass, insects, leaves, lichens, mushrooms, nuts, roots, sap, seeds, shoots, tubers and twigs are all on the Guinea baboon menu. Eagles, hyenas, leopards and lions all hunt Guinea baboons.
Unfortunately, unlike other baboon species, the Guinea baboons have suffered widespread declines in the past 30 years. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified this West African primate as ‘Near Threatened’, although it very nearly meets the criteria for a Vulnerable species. Major threats include loss of habitat through tree-felling and large-scale agricultural expansion, as well as persecution and hunting for the bush meat trade. Many have also been exported for laboratory use.
IUCN Red List category: Near Threatened
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