National Geographic : 1975 May
avoid his glance, my heart beating hard. Ray pulled up short. Ray, I thought, frustrated by Big Sam, was directing his aggression at me. Ray made a second and then a third rush at me, and I finally realized that he was not threatening me at all but instead was trying, in typical baboon fashion, to enlist my support against Big Sam! I had to decline, and signaled this to Ray by turning completely away. Ray won that day without me, but I shall never forget the compliment he paid me. In the end the Pumphouse baboons did accept me, but on their own terms. I had not sought intimacy with them. Not to respond to their overtures was often very hard, as when young Dylan, for example, mischievously untied my shoelaces and others, taking courage, rushed to imitate him. Learning about baboons, I became con vinced that many old notions about these monkeys needed revision. But my own study has only touched the surface. By continuing Special relationships that exist between adult males and their fe male friends extend to the females' infants. Yet, because baboons mate promiscuously, specific fathers are not identifiable among members of a troop, and play no role in baboon family life. Here Ray, being groomed by Naomi, relaxes with her baby, Nanci. The distinctly darker color of infants in their first months seems to inhibit the natural ag gressiveness of adult males-a phenomenon the elders exploit for their own protection. On several occasions, when powerful Big Sam made threatening approaches, Ray responded by scooping up Nanci. Big Sam's deep-seated regard for infants apparently outweighed his aggressive feelings, and the con frontation ended. Blithely unconcerned with such nuances of behavior, little Cecilia (right) takes off in a nonchalant somersault. our observations of nonhuman primate be havior, we can hope to gain a better under standing of ourselves: what we share with other primates, and what is uniquely ours. My last day with Pumphouse was, for the baboons, just like any other. But to me, as the animals made their way to the cliffs where they would sleep, everything seemed more beautiful than ever. The air was already cool, yet the rocks, heated by the sun, still gave off warmth. The sunset was like a testimonial to the lovely day just past. Baboon Sounds a Haunting Farewell Slowly, in twos and threes, the baboons climbed the cliff face to find comfortable places for the night. No stranger could have guessed that 65 of my animal subjects and friends rested there, had it not been for a baboon sound now and then. As I turned to go, a male-I don't know which one-cried "Wahoo!" Silence magnified the echo from the cliff.