Melbourne Zoo Baboons Take Play Time To New Heights

28 March 2022

Keeping cool is a lot of fun for Melbourne Zoo’s bouncing Baboons.

The Zoo’s Hamadryas Baboon family has been busy jumping and climbing over each other after shade sails were set up in their home at the Zoo.

The sails were installed to provide the highly social primates shade from the sun, but also serve as a new space to exercise, play and socialise. 

Melbourne Zoo Primates Keeper Shaye Niall said the troop quickly worked out that the sails were more than just something to sit under.  

“As soon as the shade sails were installed, the Baboons didn’t get off them all afternoon,” Ms Niall said. “The sails provide them with wonderful social enrichment. They basically acts as a trampoline that the younger Baboons especially love to jump and play on, which provides them with physical and mental stimulation.”  


While it may look like they’re just having fun, Ms Niall said this type of play activity is actually very important for the social development of the younger Baboons. 

“Baboons are a very social species, so the shade sails give them more space to socialise and play with each other. It’s also really great for the younger ones to learn how to interact and behave with each other,” Ms Niall said. 

Native to the Horn of Africa, Hamadryas Baboons live in the rocky deserts from Ethiopia to Yemen. While their numbers remain currently stable in the wild, they face increasing threats from the expansion of agricultural development and have historically been collected in large numbers for medical research.