The call came to Popcorn Park’s General Manager on Christmas Eve. An animal transporter told us he had been contacted by the family of a terminally ill elderly man who could no longer care for his four baboons. The family had found a place and needed someone to transport them. The man driving the transport knew these baboons may have been headed for someplace less than desirable. The transporter was in urgent need of a safe, reliable, and permanent home for the baboons. Knowing of Popcorn Park, he reached out for help on behalf of the foursome. Luckily for these baboons, their transporter genuinely cared about animals and wanted to insure they would be cared for and have a comfortable place to live out their lives.
Gandalf and Aragorn on the right
Of course we said yes, we would take them. The transporter discreetly re-routed the baboons to Popcorn Park. They arrived Sunday evening, December 27th, and were settled into their quickly prepared quarters. Since they came without names and not much more info, we named them Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Frodo, (after characters in The Lord of the Rings), as they were starting out on a new adventure in their lives, too.
The four baboons are a group of “bachelors” and a rather laid back bunch. We estimate them to all be in their 20’s. Gandalf and Aragorn are the most dominant in the group, Legolas in the middle, and Frodo at the bottom of the totem pole. Frodo is the most submissive of them, and the most shy with staff. There is no fighting, just a natural order of things such as to who eats first or eats whatever he wants first and has the final say in what happens. If staff offers a treat to Frodo, he immediately looks to the others to see if they want it first, giving it up easily if they do.
When they first came, adjustments were still being made to their indoor living area. After hearing all of the noise we were making inside during the day, as we opened the door for them to come inside for the night, you could hear them grunting back and forth as if they were discussing the problem and sent Frodo in first to make sure it was safe. This behavior continues today, if we move them into a new area or an area that has been worked on, they talk (grunt) about it and guess who they send in … Frodo!
Legolas is between the high end and the low end of the totem pole. He can sit with Gandalf and Aragorn and will eat and sometimes sit with Frodo while he’s eating and not bother him. Gandalf and Aragorn sit wherever they want and eat but you can tell they are the protectors of the group. If food happens to fall from their dish and outside their fence, they will sit there calmly and wait as staff picks it up, hands it to them and puts it back through the fence - they take it gently. They don’t mind being waited on at all!
Frodo, left, leaning on Legolas
They all know their roles and relationships with each other for this family structure is needed from Gandalf down to Frodo. Without their “places” in the family, there would be chaos.
Day by day, we are learning about these sensitive and intelligent creatures and in turn they are also learning about us. What we do know, is thanks to one animal transporter with a heart, four needy baboons received the greatest gift at Christmas – a devoted home for life at Popcorn Park.
Our four baboons are available for sponsorship in the Wildlife Club - just go to the second page of this section.