|Hamadryas baboon outside of Ta'if, Saudi Arabia with "pet"|
In the documentary, "Animals Like Us." there is a 3 minute clip (see video below) that suggests that Hamadryas baboons kidnap puppies and integrate them into their troops as pets. These loyal pets, risking their lives, then protect the baboon troop from other feral dogs in the area. It has been speculated by multiple Bigfoot field researchers that Bigfoot follow coyotes packs. Could it be the other way around? Could those packs be following and protecting Bigfoot?
Before we get it from both sides, the skeptics who would correctly say this is quite an extrapolation and the paranormal Bigfooters that may think we can't glean anything from flesh and blood primates, let's admit that Bigfoot is all speculation. There is so much that we don't know, so we have a policy at BLC, that nothing is off the table. With that said, we even went the extra mile to see if this baboon behavior was actually real or due to some creative editing. Besides, if true, at the very least this is interesting primate behavior. There are worse ways to put Bigfoot and baboons together.
First watch the video below. We should warn you, the first minute of the baboon kidnapping the puppy is quite disturbing. At least, it was hard for us to watch it. If you can get past the first minute, the rest of the clip has a happy ending where baboon and dog seem to have a symbiotic relationship.
Is this video legit? Is this real behavior known to primatologist in the region and elsewhere? Hal Herzog, a Professor of Psychology at Western Carolina University, asks this same question in a DEC 2010 article titled, "Do Wild Baboons Kidnap Puppies for Pets?" Herzog does not completely dispute the behavior, but tries hard to determine the scientific authenticity of the documentary.
Below is an excerpt from Hal Herzog's investigation
I got a break when the ever-curious David Hinton decided this was worth chasing down. David soon discovered that the YouTube clip was from a British nature series called Animals Like Us. Then we stumbled on the Facebook page of the Saudi Arabian American Baboon Research Association. I contacted them immediately. They were, indeed, familiar with the Ta'if baboon troop, but they knew of no documented evidence that the baboons kept dogs as pets. The researchers had seen baboons kidnap kittens, but they have not studied these relationships systematically -- a future project, they promised.Three days ago (10-29-2012) BLC reached out to Hal Herzog for any updates and this was his reply.
But the big break came when we decided to try to trace the baboon-dog connection through the dogs. The dogs at the trash dump appeared to be a type of natural breed called Canaan dogs.
Natural breeds, sometimes referred to as "pariah dogs," are found in many parts of the world, often on the outskirts of human settlements. They tend to be mid-sized animals with short hair and pointy ears (here). Often tan or brownish, they resemble Australian dingos in size and shape. They are called "natural breeds" because the dogs pick their own mates and are not subjected to the arbitrary aesthetic rules of human overlords.
Within a couple of hours, David and I had independently contacted a microbiologist and Canaan dog expert named Duncan Schroeter. Duncan became interested in Caanan dogs while he was engaged in a research project in Saudi Arabia and had adopted several of them as pets. (See here) In an email, he told me he knew about the baboons at Ta'if and had tried, unsuccessfully, to get Saudi wildlife officials to investigate their curious relationships with dogs. He also mentioned that baboons and dogs easily intermingle at a different site in the Asir region of Saudi Arabia.
The Big Question
Then Duncan raised the big question. He wrote, "Are these baboons and dogs merely tolerating each other in areas where both can find food or are they truly living together with the dogs staying with the baboons when they move away? It is easy and more sensational to put any interpretation on commercial "documentaries."
I recently found out who the scientific advisor to the French film crew was. I wrote him to ask about new developments but have not heard back. If I find out anything of interest I will write a blog post on it.