It’s a problem free philosophy…..compared to ours.

It all began on a family trip to the zoo when I was a child. Before the camel sneezed all over my sister and we had to go home, we visited the mandrill cage. These magnificent animals (closely related to baboons) strutted around, unabashedly showing off their brilliantly coloured posteriors. I remember being surprised by the vivid colours and the way my father (the scientist) explained the reproductive agenda behind the brilliant pinks and blues of the dominant males. My young eyeballs popped in disbelief, who would have thought?


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After that particular zoo visit, whenever anyone boasted shamelessly, or was a little too theatrical in their quest for attention, out came the family joke, “Stop showing off your baboon’s bottom!”

Of course this showing off for status and reproduction is exhibited throughout the animal kingdom, and we humans are no exception. But the ‘life admin’ of a baboon, whilst similar, is a lot less complicated than ours: food, mating, sleep, safe shelter, avoiding danger and predators, caring for young, the odd twerk etc.

We humans have a far more complex social life to contend with. Baboon approval would be pretty straightforward (be supportive, be a fantastic groomer), they don’t compare each other as obsessively as we do, they don’t Photoshop already cute baboon derrières for advertising revenue, or anxiously read up on how to get that deeper hue of blue on their buns this summer. I suspect baboon arguments are more in-your-face, they can’t cyber-bully with anonymity and little threat of retribution. Baboons don’t care who has the most Facebook friends, they can’t post a constant stream of attention-seeking selfies to impress and be socially assessed, or ‘liked’, worldwide. Perhaps that family joke is better aimed at humans, and how we’re using our social position on the evolutionary tree?


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Come to think of it, baboons probably don’t have insidious social epidemics like anorexia/hysteria or many DSM mental illness categories to choose from either. Middle-aged baboons don’t obsess about the discovery of nasal hair, or sagging breasts. Female baboons in general don’t appear concerned about the size of their booty.


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We share some similarities with baboons- we both love to be social and benefit from it. Baboons have a short attention span, that also applies to us on social media, and we also have little or no privacy on our cyber-savannah.

After researching baboon harems (hmm, perhaps the good outweighs the bad?), I discovered that baboon troops range in size from 30 to 200. Adult females spend a lot of time with other female friends and never leave the troop they’re born into. During their rest periods, baboons spend considerable time grooming one another, which helps to reinforce social bonds and support. Females have male baboons that assist them in caring for their infants and protecting them from danger. These males may not be the fathers, but they may later mate with the female.


Social baboons
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I began this post as a joke, but now think I’ve talked myself into the good life of a baboon. Admit it, the above picture looks like they’re having a great gossip. 🙂 Baboons are able to acquire orthographic processing skills, which form part of the ability to read (yay, books!) And I wouldn’t miss Facebook if the alternative was a rich social life and a daily massage.

It’s all about balance, isn’t it?

Hakuna Matata!

rafiki 1

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Baboons- Social Behavior: <a href=””>Baboons – Social Behavior</a>


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8 Responses to It’s a problem free philosophy…..compared to ours.

  1. Thank you for not mentioning my sagging, hairy man-boobs. Although they do need grooming, come to think of it. Booty too. Which, in my case, has the treasure chest is looking mighty empty.

    Oh, my sister is in Aus at the moment. Say hello to her for me, SVP.

    Let’s see, what else? Oh, yes – baboons. I was going to use them in my 2nd book to explain TV news personalities. And howler monkeys to explain print journalists.

    Given just a little more red wine, I too could awake to a brightly coloured bottom, were I to live too close to a tattoo parlour. The advantage to doing this is rather obvious: when I run around the neighbourhood stark naked-don’t knock it until you’ve tried it-, the neighbours would no longer be making Sasquatch reports.

    They’d be calling Animal Control instead. “Hello? I’d like to report an escaped baboon.”

  2. HazMo's Mama says:

    Oh I love this…you blogging! Oh my lord……Baboons!

    Actually, and in all seriousness, I have a very big soft spot for baboons. My father spent time in Africa studying them back in days when he was young and carefree and happy, and whenever he speaks of that time (and indeed, of the baboons in question) his eyes light up. Baboons and mosquitos. Of both I am fond for this reason.

    • I warned you I would write about baboons. I have always been a little afraid of baboons, not chimps. But I like the sound of their social life. Actually, it reminds me of coffee with a friend yesterday. 🙂

  3. suzjones says:

    Coolum is abou 90 mins north of me.
    Loved your post. Those baboons are awesome little beasties.

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