Staff at a zoo in the Netherlands say they are baffled by their baboons, who have spent days sitting still, huddled together in fear and hardly eating.
The behaviour started on Monday evening, and only now are the 112 baboons becoming their normal, active selves again, said a biologist at Emmen Zoo.
The zoo still has no idea what spooked the hamadryas baboons, but it is a good sign that some are now eating apples, biologist Wijbren Landman said.
Mr Landman said he had consulted a French baboon expert who had witnessed such baboon hysteria in the wild, triggered by awareness of a predator. But the French expert said such hysteria had not lasted as long as in the Emmen case.
He said some males in the hierarchy must have got frightened for some reason, and the rest of the baboons followed their lead.
This sounds so much like human crowd behavior, doesn’t it? Oh, my, I saw something scary, let’s all panic. Actually, it’s fascinating. There have been lots of suggestions of what the supposed threat might be. If this were an earthquake prone area, people would expect a tremor shortly after strange behavior. In this case, the strangest suggestion was that they were afraid of a UFO that was reported. That is actually how I found this story but I can’t find the UFO report. I think that’s a stretch anyway. No one else seems freaked out about that.
But I am excited to post this under the category “mass hysteria” even though it’s not people!