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Introducing Prospect Park Zoo’s New Hamadryas Baboon

Julie Larsen Maher_2615_Hamadryas Baboons and Baby_PPZ_11 02 15

A Hamadryas Baboon was born at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Prospect Park Zoo and recently made his public debut.

The male infant was born October 22nd to his 12-year-old mom, Kaia, and 23-year-old dad, Bole. This is Kaia’s second birth at the Zoo.


Prospect Park Zoo breeds Hamadryas Baboons as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in accredited zoos. The two baboons born at the zoo last year have been sent to another AZA-accredited zoo as recommended by the SSP where they will eventually start their own breeding troop.

Hamadryas Baboons (Papio hamadryas) are native to northeastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. They are large, ground-dwelling primates that are found in rocky areas and cliffs. They live in troops that typically include one dominant male and many females. They are highly social and spend much of their time grooming one another, a behavior that maintains and reinforces social bonds within the troop.

The species is an ‘Old World monkey’ and was considered a sacred animal to the ancient Egyptians.

Female baboons typically give birth after a six-month gestation, usually to a single infant. The young baboon weighs approximately 400 grams and has a black epidermis when born.

Females are the primary caretakers of offspring, but another female in the troop may also help care for the infant. Infants are given much attention by the entire troop. The dominant male will prevent other males from coming in contact with their infants and protect them from predators. He will also occasionally play with the young and carry them. The young are weaned at about one-year-old.

The Hamadryas Baboon is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. There are currently no major range-wide threats, although the species may be at risk from habitat loss due to agricultural expansion and irrigation projects. Adults are also hunted for their skins (for ceremonial cloaks in Ethiopia). The species was formerly trapped in large numbers for medical research.

The Hamadryas Baboon exhibit is located in the Animal Lifestyles building at Prospect Park Zoo, which is also home to tamarins and marmosets (species of New World monkeys), various bird species, and Pallas cats. During inclement weather, the baboons have access to their night quarters. Mother and baby baboon may take shelter inside if it is too rainy or cold.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS ; Video Credit: WCS