There are heroes among us. And quite contrary to everyone’s expectations they are teenagers. In a single day two juveniles in separate groups separated themselves from the chaff and rescued a baby from a burning building. In a manner of speaking. First there was little Wegea getting rocked by Weigira. Wegea is the poorly tended infant daughter of Wirdet. Though still sporting some of her infant black (baby baboons are jet black when born), Wegea is often abandoned by her forgetful mother in favor of a tasty snack or, more often than not, without clear reason. A few weeks ago I found her in a tree by the beach crying for her mother, who seemed to have left her in the capable hands of one-year-olds. These little ones attempted to comfort her, even snuggle her, but, tiny themselves, were really quite useless. So, skip to the other day when Wegea, all on her lonesome, starts getting smacked around by Weigira. Weigira is the second daughter of alpha, White Thorn. She should she be number two (that is, until her younger sister gets a bit bigger), but her mom has played favorites and her older sister, against the system, usurped Weigira’s place in the hierarchy. So perhaps she has a chip on her shoulder. Regardless, despite being about 7 months old, Wegea is lower-ranking than Weigira and so Weigira took it upon herself to put the little one in her place. Helpless, I watched Weigira slam Wegea into the ground, push her, smack her, and roll her off a rock. Wegea screamed. She cried. Her mother did not come. And then Winimili (real name Windmill, whom many of you may remember I kind of hate) swooped in, scooped up the wailing child and ran off with her clutched to his belly. Guess he’s not a complete jerk after all. (Note: He did try to hit me yesterday for no apparent reason. I still hate him. Mostly.)
And then there was the sad case of wee little Yoani. Yoani is all black. She’s a tiny thing. Her mother, Yei, is a bit no-nonsense, straight out of the school for hard knocks, and therefore, though she has raised many children successfully, I question her mothering practices. She seems willing to let any Tom, Dick, or Harry take her kid without a second glance. So, while following Ubergiji, I came across a thoroughly upset Yoani smack in the middle of the path, motherless and screaming. Other baboons sort of looked at her, they stuck their faces in hers, but when she reached for them, they stepped away. Yei was nowhere to be seen. And then USA hustled up to the weeping babe and collected her to her own small chest and carried her up the path a piece. There she held Yoani (who continued to yell from time to time), grooming her gently and looking around vigilantly. Five or so minutes later—USA never put the tyke down—Yei crawled non-chalantly out of a bush and USA ran to her to deliver Yoani. The baby was noticeably relieved. Yei, on the other hand, seemed a bit non-plussed. She was probably trying to lose the little leech. So, now USA is not only a social progressive (to add to her list, she happened upon a chimp mother and her baby yesterday and politely grunted at them in greeting, something I’ve never seen any other baboon do), she is also a hero. High five teenagers!