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Melbourne Zoo experiences a baby BA-BOOM!

13 June 2019

It’s a case of double trouble at Melbourne Zoo, with the exciting arrival of not just one, but two healthy baby Hamadryas Baboons.

Visitors have the opportunity to see the little primates, which currently weigh little more than 500 grams, clinging on to their happy mothers, Qetesh and Macey, up close at the zoo’s Baboon exhibit.

The newborn duo are part of a ‘baby ba-boom’ at Melbourne Zoo, joining a growing troop of nine infants and children, all under the age of five.

Melbourne Zoo Primate Keeper Andrew Thompson said the two new arrivals were active, inquisitive, and had settled in well with the support of their mothers.

“The mothers and the babies are both doing really well,” Mr Thompson said. “It’s heartwarming to see the relationships and bonds that have quickly formed. There are a lot of really positive behaviours occurring, like grooming and suckling, which is fantastic.”

Mr Thompson said the baby baboons would be kept warm and safe by their mothers during their infancy, but it would not be long before they sought independence and became playmates with the other young baboons of the troop.

“The babies are currently clinging to the stomach of their mothers, but when they get a little bit older they start to ride on their back,” he said. “At about six months of age they’ll start to become independent and spent time with their fellow infant Baboons.”

Mr Thompson said the Baboons troop had flourished since their introduction to the zoo’s spacious Baboon Lookout exhibit in 2011.

“There have been a lot of Baboons born in the past few years at Melbourne Zoo, and we believe a lot of that comes down to their wonderful exhibit.

“It’s a home that recreates their natural environment in the wild, the north-east African savannah. It has a grassland, surrounded by large rocky outcrops and palms and provides opportunities for the group to display their natural behaviours.”

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.

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

Visitors can see the baby baboons up close at Melbourne Zoo 9am-5pm, seven days a week.