The seaside town of Pringle Bay in the Western Cape is outraged at a National Geographic documentary that used food to lure baboons to a specially modified and fully furnished cottage in the area. The cottage is part of the Cape Hangklip Hotel, and the television series, Big Baboon House, raises ethical questions.
Yesterday, the Cape Times reported that the baboons had been filmed with hidden cameras placed in the specially modified cottage.
The National Geographic WILD doccie, Big Baboon House, has angered residents and animal lovers alike as it undermined years of effort to keep the animals out of their houses.
From the show’s website:
A small town in South Africa is overrun by a troop of rambunctious baboons, so Nat Geo WILD has undertaken a simian social experiment of a lifetime to understand their behavior. We’ve built a house designed to study the baboons so we can learn how to keep them out of homes and coexist peacefully with their human counterparts… all while having a little fun along the way as we observe these baboons having free reign over a posh house. As we watch these baboons day after day, their personalities and differences really begin to take shape. We put together this handy little guide for you to get to know the stars of the Big Baboon House.
The Pringle Bay Baboon Action Group said there had been a steady increase in aggressive baboon activity in the past three months:
What they did is completely unacceptable. To lure baboons with food is not only illegal, it also disrupts the peaceful cohabitation we’ve been trying to maintain between humans and baboons.
Controversially, the show’s development director, Jaco Botha, said his biggest thrill had been the first time the baboons broke into the house as it showed they could be filmed without “having any effect on their natural behaviour”.
Rambo, a dominant male, is described by the show:
Rambo is a muscular, dominant male. He’s street smart and a bully who makes others do his dirty work. He likes to be in charge and has no problem using force to get what he wants. But he’s also lazy, often choosing to sit out food competitions, knowing the can beat the treats out of the winner later. Nookie is his main squeeze.
Digital media content producer Meghan Gleason was reported as saying they had:
…undertaken a simian social experiment of a lifetime… so we can learn how to keep them out of homes and coexist peacefully with their human counterparts… all while having a little fun along the way as we observe these baboons having free reign over a posh house.
Apparently this is part of the process of understanding baboon behaviour.
2oceansVibe News regulars will remember the controversy earlier this year when paintball guns were the weapons of choice for Scarborough residents who battled two troops of baboons in and around the sleepy coastal Cape village on Easter Monday.
Why not have a read of the show’s write-ups of the rest of the troop, HERE.
What do you think of all of this?
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