Christopher Pilny for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
“Two baboons and a horse” sounds like a sitcom on Animal Planet. But in the fields next to Monkey Land and Birds of Eden Sanctuaries in South Africa, it’s more of a reality show.
There, a troop of baboons lives alongside several work horses in surprising, yet perfect harmony. They eat together; they sleep together; and on Friday evenings they even catch up on last week’s Grey’s Anatomy together.
Ok, not really. But the baboons do groom the horses when they need it.
On the other hand, it’s not clear what the horses are bringing to the table in the relationship, as normally there’s a certain mutualism (one species aids the other and vice versa) in multi-species groups. Perhaps the horses help protect the baboons from predators? Or maybe the baboons just gorge on leftover horse feed? Who knows?
For now, we won’t worry about it. We’ll just chalk it up as another in a long line of unexpected, but still fun to watch, animal friendships.
Editor’s Note: Within multi-species groups, mutualism is one of several relationships that may exist–including parasitism, commensalism, amensalism and synnecrosis. Therefore, the horses may not actually have to “bring anything to the table in the relationship.”