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Baboon Aunty 'Brain'

Wild baboon 'Brain' loves being Aunty to this adorable little pinkface.

Brain is a wild female chacma baboon belonging to the Lontit troop which roams around the reserve. She became known as Brain because when she was a few months old she had an prominent injury to her head and face. Her skull was showing and her mouth has been permanently disfigured as a result of the injury. Without veterinary intervention she survived; baboons have incredible healing powers and Brain gets along well as a popular high-ranked female.

Brain's own baby died a few months ago, the same day it was born. It was sad to observe, especially because we were so excited for it's arrival and as her three close friends in the troop all had babies at the same time.

It didn't come as a real surprise that Brain's baby didn't make it.... she had suffered (and been healed) from tetanus a few months before she became pregnant. Whilst she looked a picture of health, her body had been under a lot of strain and she very nearly lost her own life. For a while Brain, not surprisingly appeared depressed after the death of her precious baby. Presently however, she has been flaunting her pretty, pink oestrus swelling and seems her happy self again.

Chacma baboons of all ages make excellent Aunties and Uncles of the infants in their troop. The troop members are very much like human families, with some families or members being more protective and caring than others. It seems that babies often bond the family units together and encourages the mothers to spend more time together. This gives them the protection of the group, but also allows the mothers to get some rest; she can shut her eyes for a moment confident that Aunts like Brain are taking good care of her baby.

We are sure that when Brain's body can cope she will enjoy motherhood again and that these little pink-faces which she has been doting on now, will be there to keep her own infant entertained and sheltered. - Author and photo by Samantha Dewhirst

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