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Humanity owes baboons an apology

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opinion Superior,Wisconsin 54880
Superior Telegram
Humanity owes baboons an apology
Superior Wisconsin 1410 Tower Ave. 54880

What do you know about baboons? I knew next to nothing until I learned a bit from Shirley Strum, director of the University of California’s, Uaso Nairu Baboon Project in Nairobi, Kenya.


Strum agrees that a group of baboons should be called a troop, and has written two books about her study of baboons. One book is titled, “My Friends the Baboons” and the second is “The Soul of the Ape.” She is listed as poet, advocate, doctor, naturalist and author.

A few facts about baboons:

• They live in Africa or Arabia.

• They use about ten different and unique vocalizations to communicate with other members of the troop.

• Their life span is about 30 years.

• They sleep in trees or near the end of large limbs.

• Female baboons stay with their troop.

• Males roam and may become a member of another troop.

• Baboons steal young puppies and raise them as pets.

• Gestation period in baboons is six months.

• Baboons major predator are humans.

It was something else Strum said that prompted me to write this column.

Some of you may not know much about baboons either. We are always anxious to learn more facts and opinions as well. Strum recently said “I would prefer to be governed by a troop of baboons than the current Congress. Baboons are more socially committed, abide by the Golden Rule and are generally nicer.”

She, very distinctly must have been discouraged by Congress that day.

I thought I knew what the Golden Rule said, but for verification, I looked it up. It maintains that others should be treated as one likes to be treated. A summary in one word would be “empathic.” We all have heard that definition of treating others as you wish other to treat you.

I had heard before that humans and baboons had similar DNA. How much I hadn’t remembered and discovered once again that it is 91 percent. And so, I’m not going to speak of baboons in a negative fashion. My mother and father taught me to be especially kind to my relatives.

Some readers are not going to take kindly to my calling the baboons our relatives. Some Congressional personnel are not going to be happy being compared to baboons. I watched President Obama’s message recently and noticed that he received clapping and standing up by Democrats when liberal points were mentioned. Just the opposite when conservative issues were his topic. Democratic and Republican DNA is the same, so it must be something else.

Why did I title this piece about the possibility of our owing the baboons an apology? There aren’t many of us that have studied baboons, up close and personal, as did Strum. Too often, we have used baboons in a humorous fashion.

Strum has shown the other side of baboons — the socially committed abiding by the Golden Rule.

She summed it all up by saying they were generally nicer.

Who should we believe, comic writers, humorous movies and other stories meant to be funny. So, in my thinking we do owe the baboons an apology.

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at bernie3024@