Wednesday, January 13, 2010

baboons in my bed

Marieta has gone to Windhoek (3-hour drive) for a few days for a carnivore-caretakers conference (not exactly the Junior League), so she asked me to baboon-sit the two newest babies here on Harnas, Coco and Jessie. I was very flattered since she doesn't let just anybody take care of her little ones. Baboons are her favorite.

Most of the time it's easy: I have to feed them a bottle every four hours, but most of the day they spend in their nice enclosure with a little house, swings, trees, and visiting volunteers. Sometimes I take them out to the grassy area under the tree to play. But at night they need nurturing, so I sleep with them in my bed.

In case you're wondering, they wear preemie diapers. I cut a hole in the back side, thread their tails through it, and fasten the diapers around their midsection--just like human babies, except for the tail of course. And of course it's not easy to do all this with a baboon who won't hold still.

After the last bottle for the night and getting those diapers on, I took them to the bedroom. The first hour or so was pretty lively. I thought I'd removed anything that looks like a toy to them, but then I realized that anything can be a toy to a baboon. Their favorite game was for one to distract me while the other climbed the headboard and jumped on my face from above. ( I have new respect for mothers with twins.)

Little by little they calmed down, starting sucking on their pacifiers (yes, a pacifier!), and we settled down for the night. I'd wake up every so often to check on them. Once they were cuddled one under each arm, another time they were hugging each other. Another time we were all spooning, and once one of them was stretched out across my neck with a little hand resting on my cheek. It was sweet--but a little claustrophobic.

They slept for 8 hours, woke ready to play, and I fed them and took them to their enclosure for a few hours. A one-of-a-kind experience.

I get to do it all over tonight. Marieta will be home tomorrow.

I'll attach a couple of pictures of them. When they hang on your legs, we call them baboon-boots.

And by the way, if there's anybody out there reading this--and I'm not sure if there is--feel free to email me to ask questions about Harnas, the animals, the book I've written, or anything else that seems appropriate. I'm listening!


  1. We are reading it!
    -Kirstin and Carolyn

  2. love seeing this--tiny little fellows--
    patty and jim

  3. So touching.. I'm so jealous.. that's what I went to Borneo for originally 9 years ago: the orangutan version/ but was denied access..(bad timing right after 9/11) Now I've finally gotten an OK.. but 10 years later don't have the stamina and strength needed for it.