Baby baboon bounces back at Melbourne Zoo

08 October 2019

A seven-month-old Hamadryas Baboon is back playing with her buddies at Melbourne Zoo after recovering from a broken arm.

It’s believed 'Baby H' fractured her arm while playing with others in her troop. Unfortunately, her rough-and-tumble resulted in a serious fracture.

A specialist surgeon was called on to operate, with Baby H’s recovery managed by Melbourne Zoo's veterinary department and the Zoo's Primates team.

Melbourne Zoo veterinarian Dr Sarah Frith says it was a serious injury.

"The baby baboon had a fracture of her elbow, so she needed some pins put in there to repair that, however the surgery went really well," Dr Frith said.

"It is really beautiful to see her back with her mum. She is moving fine, climbing, using her arm. We are really happy with her progress. We are over the moon, she has done so well."

Baby H is back with the baboon troop

Dr Sonya Wasik, a specialist surgeon from the Melbourne Veterinary Specialist Centre, performed the surgery on Baby H.

"It was a difficult surgery and a serious injury to a very important elbow joint,” Dr Wasik said.

“Operating on a baboon is definitely not something I do every day. We knew that we had to get it right because baboons are a highly active and social species. We were happy with how the surgery went, given the size of the patient and how small the bones were. It struck me how robust this little baboon is."

Melbourne Zoos Primates Life Science Manager, Harna Burton, says Baby H has settled back with her troop beautifully.

"After providing her with the space to be able to recover she has been able to go back into the group with no problems," Ms Burton said.

"Apart from her shaved arm where she had the stitches, you really wouldn’t notice that she has had any sort of injury. She has just adapted straight back into family life and it's baboon business as normal.

"To get a perfect result and have her back in the baboon troop like nothing ever happened is the best reward."

Hamadryas Baboons are native to Africa and live in a hierarchal social structure. They are identified by their silver-grey coat and pink or red face and rump. There are 23 in the Melbourne Zoo troop, including several babies under the age of one.

As an African species, the Baboons at Melbourne Zoo are ambassadors for Zoos Victoria’s Beads for Wildlife conservation initiative.

The project aims to reduce the local African community’s reliance on large numbers of livestock and help Kenyan women support their families by selling their beautiful beadwork in the Zoo’s shops and online.