Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Betty’s Blog - 17 October to 21 November 2011

Since Betty’s last blog she’s had a few new additions to her troop out in the main outdoor enclosure. Just a fortnight ago we released Mary and her new white baby Sangalala out to meet the troop*. It was a resounding success, although Mary, being a naturally timid baboon, was a little overwhelmed by all the attention she received, since she was last outside about three months ago.

British volunteer Sarah Hardy has spent many a long day outside in the blistering summer sun studying the baboons, judging when Doreen is ready to receive the next member back outside with her. Remarkably there was no change at all in Doreen’s behaviour over the last two weeks since Mary and Sangalala joined the troop. The decision was thus made to let Jungle out next, who was acting as Sangalala’s auntie throughout her time in the night rooms. Jungle was the obvious next choice and letting her out sooner rather than later, turned out to be a good one.

At feeding time when we were preparing to open up for Jungle to come outside, Doreen was right up at the fence with the wheelbarrow of food - a sure sign of a confident animal, being so close to the food source with no worry about anyone coming up behind her. Further proof of Doreen’s progress can be found in Doreen’s sexual state, as she came into oestrus this month for the first time since she was rescued and brought to Munda Wanga over two years ago. We can’t know if she was ever in oestrus prior to her arrival, as we don’t know that part of her history. But the signs are good and show that her body is finally adjusting to her new relaxed and confident state within her troop.

The rest of the day was completely calm, with no aggression shown by anyone to anyone, although Jungle had a couple of new members of the troop to be properly introduced to. Jungle was inside the night rooms when baby Betty arrived in early September and was introduced to her new surrogate mum Tibi. Although Betty’s been outside in the main enclosure for almost two months already, Jungle hasn’t been properly introduced to her, except through the bars.

So today was her first day to meet Betty face to face, with no bars in between them. Jungle was overly excited about meeting her and so Betty did what any baby would do - she ran straight into her mum’s arms. She sat there, tucked tight into Tibi’s chest, with her arms and legs wrapped around her, for several minutes, just sitting there quietly with Jungle hovering excitedly nearby. She got her chance to meet Betty a little later on, but on Betty’s terms. There was no fuss, just a simple introduction and Betty went on her way once more, as did a much happier Jungle.

Alpha female Mirra, who had her last baby, Ice (also born white), at the end of January, has also just come back into heat again. She is seen pushing Ice away more and more as she strives to wean him off her milk. She runs away from him, leaving him racing around the enclosure screaming trying to catch her up. When he does, she gives him the biggest hug and allows him to remain with her. But the lessons are being told and being learned and he spends more time away from his mum now.

Miga (below) spends more and more time patrolling the fence, his troop’s territory, demonstrating more clearly day by day, his true alpha status. There is no longer any doubt about this. He’s undergoing a growth spurt at the moment and looks amazing. He’s full of confidence and authority and leaves no doubt about who’s leading the troop. Jungle approached a rather disinterested Miga this afternoon, presented herself and, receiving little interest at all from him, she went on her way. A few months ago she would have chased him.

Jungle hadn’t met Jaklini properly until now either and after a couple of small chases to catch up with her, Jungle found her prize, mounted her in an act of friendship and life went on as normal for both of these ladies. Jungle was found much later on, sitting with Doreen, grooming each other peacefully. There’s rarely a chase these days, the troop preferring to forage, rest and play together, often interchanging to be with other troop members. So only Stocky and Vanilla now remain in the night rooms, awaiting their turn to be reintegrated back into their troop, at Doreen’s and Miga’s pace. In just a few weeks time, when these two ladies are slowly released one by one back into the troop in the main enclosure outside, our release troop for 2012 will be complete. Not only that, but it will be a fully bonded cohesive troop, with a strong alpha couple, several very strong mother/baby bonds with a good number of aunties to help look after the babies and a well ordered hierarchy. And it finally looks as if Doreen will be joining them.

So only Stocky and Vanilla now remain in the night rooms, awaiting their turn to be reintegrated back into their troop, at Doreen’s and Miga’s pace. In just a few weeks time, when these two ladies are slowly released one by one back into the troop in the main enclosure outside, our release troop for 2012 will be complete. Not only that, but it will be a fully bonded cohesive troop, with a strong alpha couple, several very strong mother/baby bonds with a good number of aunties to help look after the babies and a well ordered hierarchy. And it finally looks as if Doreen will be joining them.

*As we always plan to release our rescued primates back into the wild where they belong, we limit interference with their natural behaviours, allowing them to strengthen their social bonds through breeding.
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906


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