A baboon in an English zoo has put a premium on dental hygiene.
At Devon's Paignton Zoo, the residents of 'Baboon Rock' had been given broom heads to play with. While some of the younger animals used them to sweep, an older female hamadryas baboon named Georgia pried loose a bristle on one of the brooms and used it to floss her teeth.
"I saw her pull out a bristle, examine it, pull it taut between both hands and very deliberately start to floss her teeth," said zoo volunteer Liz Chisholm, in a news release. "She did it several times, both top and bottom set."
Chisholm photographed the unusual sight and noticed that Georgia might be intent on launching a trend. "I only saw the one baboon behaving like this, but she had several pupils, as she was being watched by other baboons."
While certainly cool, it's not the first time monkeys have ever been seen flossing. Neil Bemment, the zoo's mammal curator, said of Georgia: "Yes, it is flossing of sorts, as she is passing it between her teeth either to flick food out or because she likes the sensation. A number of the Sulawesi crested macaques do it, too."
"Animals like dogs and even chimps can be taught to do things, which is very clever," added Amy Plowman, the zoo's conservation and education director. "But it's much more interesting scientifically if animals spontaneously do something with a tool without being taught, which would be the case with the baboons."
The zoo notes that another female hamadryas baboon, back in 2000, also displayed tool use, when she used a splinter of wood to clear the eye of one of her children.
Hat tip Daily Mail