Saying Goodbye to Clarabelle,
the oldest baboon in the AZA population
The Zoo said goodbye to one of our female Hamadryas baboons, Clarabelle, last week.
At 36-years-old, she was the oldest Hamadryas baboon in the AZA population, which is a testament to the care she received from both the primate team and veterinary staff while residing at the Phoenix Zoo.
Clarabelle and her mother, Bernice, came to the Phoenix Zoo from St. Louis in 2008. As they were introduced to our troop, it became apparent that Clarabelle understood the dynamics of baboon hierarchy and had plans to make her way to the top. She played the long game. For years, she and another dominant female seemed to share the role with Clarabelle taking on the responsibility of checking in with everyone. She would always patrol between the male and each of the other females throughout the day to make sure everyone was good and to maintain strong relationships. Clarabelle seemed to be the “queen of compromise” and would always work to keep the peace whenever there was a squabble.
Keepers always appreciated how good she was and knew they could count on her to do what was asked. She was also very patient with new keepers as they learned the routines and was reliably good about eating and shifting.
She was one of the smartest baboons in the troop and was especially good with enrichment. She often would figure out any new feeders before the others and was able to get the good treats first. She even outsmarted her keepers once with the introduction of new bucket feeders when she promptly moved from bucket to bucket taking off the tightly secured lids.
Keepers will fondly remember how she would eagerly approach to get a treat but would usually move just out of view to enjoy it.
Her calm demeanor will be sorely missed by both her caregivers and the baboon troop.