Collective Baboon Apathy
In 2013, a typically rambunctious colony of baboons at the Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands was struck by a bizarre case of mass hysteria. All their regular antics—playing, fighting, greeting their treat-bearing keepers—stopped, and they simply sat.
The odd event started with a massive burst of chaos. Then nothing. One group sat high up in a tree and refused to do anything, and the apathy spread throughout the whole colony. This wasn’t the the first time that it’s happened. In 1994, 1997, and 2007, similar occurrences of mass apathy happened in the same group of baboons. During the previous episode, they all sat motionless in their enclosure, looking off in the same direction. They didn’t eat and they didn’t socialize. They just sat. Nothing similar has happened in any other zoos, and it hasn’t been linked to a unique quality or characteristic in the dominant member of the group—the dominant member has changed between the episodes.
Slowly, the baboons came out of their trance-like state. Younger baboons started acting up again, older baboons resumed their parenting duties, and gradually, they all got hungry and started looking for food again. There’s been a wide range of theories about just what was going on with the baboons. It could be minor, undetected earthquakes, or a random fright that might have been as simple as someone wearing a scary T-shirt. These theories have been thrown around, but none have been proven as explanations for the baboons of the Emmen Zoo to sink into their occasional funk.
So, what do you think? Did they suddenly go on strike for more treats...maybe some type of protest for the Baboon Union? Maybe they just wanted to take a break and zone out for a bit. Strange if you ask me.
Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's supposed to be in the low 70s and that's a good thing!