WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A male baboon was caught kidnapping a lion cub this weekend at South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
- The baboon then groomed and cared for the cub as if it were his own young.
- While the involvement of a lion cub is unusual, the act of kidnapping itself is a common behavior among monkeys in general.
A male baboon at South Africa’s Kruger National Park was caught in the act this weekend when he kidnapped a young lion cub, which he then groomed and cared for as if it were his own young.
Kurt Schultz, director of the Kurt Safari company, witnessed the encounter and was able to capture pictures of the incident.
Early on February 1, Schultz happened across a troop of restless baboons. After half an hour, he saw the baboon that was previously spotted carrying a lion cub.
The young male baboon crossed the road and climbed a marula tree, all while carrying the lion cub.
As the rest of the baboons settled down in the presence of the lion cub, the kidnapper started “grooming and caring” for the young lion “as if this was a young baboon.”
According to Schultz, there were no visible signs of the cub being injured, but it looked exhausted.
He said that the encounter had unusual circumstances: “I have witnessed baboons viciously killing leopard cubs and have heard of baboons killing lion cubs but have never seen the care and attention given to a lion cub in this manner.”
“Male baboons do a lot of grooming but the care given to this lion cub was the same care given by a female baboon to one of her own young,” he continued.
However, Schultz expressed his concerns for the cub, saying, “I don’t see a chance of this poor cub surviving. The troop of baboons was large and a lion would not be able to get the young back. Nature is cruel and survival of young predator cubs is not easy.”
But he explained that he could not intervene: “Nature has its own ways. We cannot get involved.”
If you’ve seen Disney’s The Lion King, the incident might seem familiar and reminiscent of the characters Rafiki and Simba.
But as the weekend passed, updates on the situation reflected a more accurate relationship between the species, just as Schultz predicted. According to Latest Sightings, an app that enables visitors to document their park experience, the cub did not survive the ordeal.
While the involvement of a lion cub is unusual, the act of kidnapping itself is a common behavior among monkeys in general.
“Adolescent and adult males kidnap baboon infants (as buffers against aggression in olive baboons) and baboon juveniles (as a new member of a male’s harem in hamadryas baboons),” Shirley Strum, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at San Diego, explained in Psychology Today in 2015.