R.I.P George Jr.

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It is a sad day for our beleaguered baboon troops in the south as we mourn the passing of Slangkop’s alpha male George Jr. (a.k.a “SK10”)

OCEAN VIEW – On the morning of 14 December 2022, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA was alerted that the leader of the Slangkop baboon troop, the large male known affectionately as “George Jr.” was found unwell. He was found lying in a dense stand of alien acacia trees at the back of Ocean View, far from his troop and barely moving. The SPCA Wildlife Department rushed out to meet the NCC baboon rangers in Ocean View who lead us to him, and what we saw was truly heart-breaking.

Photo credit: Baboon Matters

Hardly the image of this proud and loud baboon we had come to known over the past few years, gentle George Jr. now lay on his back beneath a thick tangle of overgrowth, starring up at the sky, silent except for a soft groan every time he tried to move. We suspected he had been shot but there were no obvious wounds and no tell-tale clumps of blood- matted fur.

It was clear that he needed immediate medical attention.

SPCA Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse and SPCA veterinarian Dr Stephan Spamer arrived and were able to tranquilise the big male. He was safely loaded and on his way to the SPCA hospital for x-rays when loadshedding struck, forcing a detour to the nearest vet clinic with a generator. Fourways Veterinary Hospital came to the rescue and we were able to get George Jr. onto their x-ray table within 8 minutes of leaving Ocean View.

Right away seven airgun pellets of different sizes showed up on the x-rays.

The attending vets quickly noticed however that his testicles were markedly swollen. With no signs of a herniation or foreign body causing the swelling, testicular torsion (caused by a rotated testicle and the twisting of the cord that delivers blood to the scrotum, was most likely to be what was causing our boy such debilitating pain. It is a condition that requires invasive surgery and, in this case, the severity of it meant castration would have been his only option.

Consultations were had with CapeNature and wildlife veterinarians who all agreed that castration would deliver a poor prognosis.

With castration, George would be unable to live a peaceful life as the head of his troop once returned and the risk of complications arising were high so with that in mind and with all due consideration for his long-term wellbeing, the legend that was our split-lipped leader of the Slangkop troop, was humanely allowed to cross the rainbow bridge, his pain and suffering relieved. Believed to be around 13 years old, George was well-know by the many households he visited during his reign as alpha male, some residents loved him for his devil-may-care attitude, some hated him for the same reason (as evidenced by the number of pellet gun wounds he carried!), but one thing is certain – the Southern peninsula is poorer for his passing.

RIP George Jr.
George Jr. (a.k.a “SK10”). Photo provided by Baboon Matters.

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