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Baboon health checks

13 April 2017

Melbourne Zoo’s Vets and Primate Keepers have had a very busy day examining 11 Hamadryas Baboons.

And Primate Keepers suspected that six-year-old Qetesh might be pregnant.

When Dr. Sarah Frith examined Qetesh she found signs of pregnancy, so she performed an ultrasound that confirmed Qetesh is indeed pregnant. Hamadryas Baboons have a gestation period of about five and a half months. Providing that all goes well with the pregnancy, this baby will be the first since Huddo gave birth to Juju two years ago.

Qetesh was born at Wellington Zoo and arrived at Melbourne Zoo in November 2015.

There are two breeding males in the Baboon Lookout troop, brothers Azizi and Jabari, so either could be the father of Qetesh’s baby.

Azizi and Jabari came to Melbourne in 2012 from their birthplace, New York’s Prospect Park Zoo, as arranged by the international breeding program for their species.

The Zoo’s Head Vet Dr. Helen McCracken says that the checkups were aimed at monitoring the general health of all the animals and particularly checking on arthritic conditions in some of the older individuals. She said that several of the baboons were found to have cavities, so the Vet team will be scheduling a dental date for them soon.

Hamadryas Baboons have a complex and active social life with a status hierarchy and virtually constant interaction among group members. They are native to Somalia, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

This species is considered to be under increasing threat in the wild, classified as Red List by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

The opening of Baboon Lookout in 2011 was a major milestone for Melbourne Zoo, as it provided great opportunities for visitors to observe the troop exhibiting their natural behaviours while also allowing the removal of their old and outdated exhibit.

Zoo Director Kevin Tanner says that connecting visitors to wildlife is the first step in gaining their support for the Zoo’s community conservation programs. 

Baboon Outlook is linked to the Beads for Wildlife campaign, which supports wildlife conservation in Kenya through sales of beaded jewellery and other items in the Zoo shops.