Sacred Baboon

(Papio hamadryas)




Facts about this animal

Sacred or Hamadryas baboons are highly sexually dimorphic in size and pelage. Adult males weigh between 20-30 kg, females only half as much. Males may reach a head-body length of 80 cm and a shoulder-height of 55 cm. The tail is long, and curved, with a graceful arch at the base.


These baboons have long, dense, silky fur which is grey in males and brownish in females. Mature males have whiskers and a silver-grey cape or mane over the head, neck and shoulders. All adults have red, hairless skin on the face and rump. Ischial callosities (leathery sitting pads) allow baboons to sit and sleep upright.


Sacred baboons are diurnal, spending much time walking, foraging for food and water. At night they usually sleep on vertical cliffs rather than in trees.


The young are born black, turning olive-brown as they mature.


The sacred baboon is an omnivore for which desert dates (Balanites and Ziziphus) are of great seasonal importance, but it raids crops in settled areas and that often leads to conflict. It feeds on roots, leaves, blossoms, seeds and grasses, occasionally termites, other insects and small mammals.

Did you know?
That the sacred baboon derives its (English) name from the fact that it was a sacred animal to the ancient Egypts? Djehuti, later called Thoth by the Greek, the god of sacred writings and wisdom, took the form of a baboon when he came to Earth, although somtimes he appeared also as an ibis-headed being. Both, baboon and ibis, were thus held sacred and were also mummified.


Suborder SIMIAE
Name (Scientific) Papio hamadryas
Name (English) Sacred Baboon
Name (French) Hamadryas
Name (German) Mantelpavian
Name (Spanish) PapiĆ³n negro
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Mariana Ruiz Villarreal



Range North-East Africa and Arab Peninsula: Djibouti; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sudan; Yemen. Extinct in Egypt
Habitat Semi-desert, steppe, alpine grass meadows, plains, and shortgrass savanna
Wild population 2,000 (2000) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 1103 reported to ISIS (2008).

In the Zoo

Sacred Baboon


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 33 or 34 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Dick Mudde

Why do zoos keep this animal

Sacred baboons are classified as belonging to the "near-threatened" category and building up reserve populations is currently not necessary. They are thus primarily kept for educational purposes and as ambassadors for their habitats and the fauna of the North-East African and Arab aridlands. It is a flagship species for the Horn of Africa Hotspot.