Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Betty the Baboon update

It’s already a week on from Betty’s and surrogate mum Tibi’s release into the main enclosure from the night room they shared together. Release day was a complete success, as was Betty’s first week outside with the rest of her new family.

Baboons grooming
Being groomed by Jaklini....... and playing with Ice (Mirra’s second born)

Tibi took just a few days to fully settle, her chasing of others slowing down even as soon as the second day. As always, we adjusted our feeding strategy to cater for adult female Doreen’s needs, as Tibi’s return to the main enclosure after two months, put an expected strain on her and she barely ate for those first two days, no matter how hard we all tried to get food to her by scattering it all around the entire enclosure.

But unlike previous times when we’ve released a troop member out of the night rooms and back into the main enclosure, this time Doreen did eat towards the end of each feed, she just missed all the really good bits. By day three, you’d hardly know there had been any change to the group dynamics. Although we continue to feed the troop in such a way that Doreen can’t fail to find abundant food wherever she walks, she no longer needs this treatment. She can be seen eating side by side once again with our alpha pair, Miga and Mirra, and also now with Tibi.

Baboon eating
Looking more like a hamster every day

Betty, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to have stopped eating for a second since her release. In the first couple of days, she was often pinned down (gently) by a few troop members, simply showing her her place in her new family group. Betty was never phased by this at all. Every time she was released from their gentle hold, she’d bounce straight back up and continue feasting. As always, it’s the confident ones who thrive in these integrations and Betty is just such a character.

Charlie had to go through the same procedure back in May when he was released into the main enclosure with surrogate mum Doreen, but his case was very different. At that time, there were only three other baboons outside (Wezi, Peter and Jaklini, the latter fresh out of quarantine), to allow Doreen her very best chances of remaining outside, and not being returned straight back to the night rooms after being bullied by all the others, as had happened before.

Betty clearing a patch
Betty spent a great deal of time the other day, carefully clearing away all the grass in this patch of scrub, until she felt it was flat enough to sit her precious bottom down and nibble on something

Betty is a quiet little soul, for the moment at least. She spends a lot of time wandering around her enclosure, soaking up the space, whether alone or in company doesn’t seem to bother her at all. She gets on famously with all members of the troop, particularly young Peter now that he’s shown her he’s her superior - Betty had actually taken to lying down before he pinned her down, just to save time. They spend a lot of time together now and as he’s high up in the chain of command, despite his age, this will in turn aid Betty’s integration further still as the rest of the troop join them in time.

baboons eating and playing
Eating again........ More playtime with Ice, with Tibi on watch

Tibi and Betty are spending more and more time together now that Tibi has reaffirmed all bonds throughout the troop and has settled once more after her two months away. It was important that she was allowed to do this and she can now focus more fully on her maternal duties once again. Betty was a much loved member of the troop after just hours of her release. Now, a week on, this growing love can be readily seen and the air of calmness which surrounds Betty, is proof of this.

When Doreen demonstrates that she is comfortable with the troop dynamics once again, the next member of the troop will be released into the main enclosure. This time, heavily pregnant Mary...to allow her as natural a birth as possible within her family group, with Betty a fully fledged member.

Zoe Lapthorn, Project Manager, Zambia Primate Project (formerly the Lunga Luswishi Wildlife Project)

To volunteer in Zambia, and help monitor the next troop of monkeys to be released back to the wild, visit: Volunteering overseas

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906


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