Disqualified as a non-ape, Jack was a capable baboon from South Africa, who worked as the personal assistant to a Cape railroad employee named Jumper Wide, who had lost both his legs in a train accident. Working at the station, Jack initially helped with the day-to-day mobility of the crippled Wide, but was subsequently trained by Wide to operate the trains’ switches, essentially to perform all of the duties of a hired, human signalman.
Understandably, many arriving at the station were amazed to see a baboon at the controls, and one woman fainted at the sight. The situation was investigated by the governmental authority, and Jack proved to be extremely proficient and reliable at his post, and was allowed to keep the job. He was even given an employee number and compensation.
The story of Jumper Wide and Jack is a tender tale of human-animal friendship, and Wide was deeply grief-stricken when Jack succumbed to tuberculosis and died, in 1890. Jack’s skull remains on display at the Albany Museum at Rhodes University near Port Elizabeth.
I wonder why we don't try and encourage more teams of workers like this anymore? Seems to be a fairly sensible pairing to me, but then what do I know?
Coffee outside again this morning, where the temps on the patio are going to be around the mid 70s.