Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

The Rehabilitation of Betty

The day Betty was released into her new family group out in the main enclosure with surrogate mum Tibi. A resounding success.

Tibi had been in the night rooms adjoining the main enclosure for the last 2 months, whilst the troop was slowly being rebuilt outside in the main enclosure. This was to assist with adult female Doreen’s integration and alpha male Miga’s ranking issues. Tibi therefore shot out of the night rooms like a bullet and spent the first half hour after her release reaffirming her bonds with her family, leaving Betty to explore alone.

Betty took a little coaxing out of the night rooms but once outside she strutted around with supreme confidence, immediately foraging around in the grass for the fruits and ground nuts we’d scattered throughout the enclosure (a) to move the rest of the troop away to allow her to emerge and settle and (b) to lure her out if necessary, which it was.

One of the early shots, when Betty had moved to the wall at the far end of the enclosure and was sitting quietly in a small patch of shade with alpha female Mirra
As that shade turned to sun, Betty retreated to a huge old tyre, affording a little more shade, where she rested a while with Tibi ... and guest

Doreen was first to come over to her, just to reassure her that she was there if needed. She then moved off, cautious of getting too near the new baby without having sought permission. Alpha male Miga was next, whom none of us had seen previously with Betty at the night rooms fence. He made us very proud today. He approached her slowly, gently picking her up, his chest to hers as if he was her mother. He held her close but gently, looked straight at me and lipsmacked fast and repeatedly, to show he was happy with the new family member. He gently replaced her in the grass and walked away to forage some more.

Later in the day on a high bamboo branch with friends
Being groomed by Tibi, with Peter in the background
Testing her head for heights, with Peter sitting on the right

Slowly, the rest of the troop came and introduced themselves. By the end of the day, Doreen and Wezi had yet to touch Betty, both low ranking and fearing for repercussions. Tibi had a lot to show today, having been out of the troop for 2 months. She therefore spent much time pursuing those she needed to remind of her high ranking position in the troop. Very few were excluded from this treatment, but it was a necessary part of troop bonding and hierarchy and should pass in time.

Enjoying a rare moment alone in the endless grass
Foraging for food alongside a watchful Tibi

A great deal of bounding around ensued, covering every inch of the large enclosure by the entire troop. This resulted fairly swiftly in an exhausted Betty by late morning, when I discovered her sound asleep behind Tibi, who was being groomed by Mirra. This grooming continued throughout the day, mostly between these 2 adult females, but also including all the young ones. Every corner of the enclosure and every piece of enrichment, was utilised fully throughout the course of this long day.

(1) At dusk, Betty sits atop the highest point in the enclosure, with Tibi just below her, their hands just touching. (2) As Tibi stands to move off, Betty takes the bold move to attempt to stand or ride on Tibi’s back. (3) Betty was unsuccessful in this attempt, but just as Tibi was putting her in her place, an even bolder Peter made the necessary leap to prove it could be done, with a little practice. Just look at Betty’s stunning tail!

The main feed was in the afternoon and although put in her place as appropriate by higher ranking individuals (or those wishing to be), Betty continued with a cool air of confidence and ate until she was satisfied. There then followed more tearing around the enclosure in pursuit of, or being pursued by, youngsters, along with Tibi, who was also having a great day expending weeks of pent up energy.

I left when it was too dark to make out who was who, safe in the knowledge that 2 more members of the troop are out of the night rooms and being welcomed wholeheartedly into the family by one and all. Betty is spending tonight in a baboon family, her family, for the first time since she was robbed of this precious gift so many months ago as a tiny baby. She deserves her new family just as much as they deserve her.

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

To follow more of Betty's story see

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

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