Baboons are well grounded
Most of us imagine that all primates live in forests or jungles, jumping from tree to tree. However, baboons are primates that break this "tree" rule, living mostly on the ground. Their heavy body and short fingers are better suited for a terrestrial way of life. In fact, baboons are built for foraging on grasslands and savannahs, where there are few trees. Their arms are positioned under their shoulders for support, so they can pick grass with one hand and stand on the other. They eat almost all the edible plants they can find, and just about any kind of animal they can overpower. Grasshoppers, spiders, scorpions, small fish, rodents, frogs, lizards, turtles, birds, bird eggs, and the occasional antelope are all on baboons' potential menu. Though they find most of their food on the ground, they often wander far and wide to find it.
Order in the troop
Guinea baboons usually live in troops of about 30 or 40. Very occasionally they will live in troops of up to 200. Each troop includes several subgroups made up of one male and a few females. Eventually, males leave their birth troop to find a new troop, but females stay in the same troop and help form its core.
Female baboons have a strict rank order in the troop and the ranking determines social relationships, such as who grooms whom. Daughters inherit their mother’s social rank. This hierarchy helps keep the troop stable over time. The bonds of the troop are strengthened by grooming.
Guinea baboons communicate through vocalizations, facial expressions, touching, and body postures. Their range of vocalizations includes everything from a soft chirp to a sharp roar. Vocal signals carry a variety of messages in the baboon world. But when a baboon changes facial expressions it usually means they’re sending a threat or receiving one. On the other hand, social grooming is a friendly gesture. Picking through a troop-mate’s fur strengthens bonds within the group and rids the skin and fur of fleas and ticks. Changing their body posture can mean almost anything---from being afraid to preparing to go on the attack. Often, all these ways of communicating work together at once.
Guinea baboons at Brookfield Zoo
Baboon Island – across from Scoops Restaurant – is currently home Guinea Baboons.