National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    The small town of Pringle Bay, South Africa has a major pest problem. It's crawling with rowdy baboons. So Nat Geo WILD set up an unusual social experiment here to study how these creatures interact and to help local residents cope. "Nightline's" Bill Weir got a glimpse of all the monkey business.
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    The roaming baboons are such a nuisance in the gorgeous coastal town that some residents put bars on their windows to keep them out of their homes. "You have those people that really love them… and then you have the people that really, really hate them and would shoot at them and try electrocuting the baboons," behavioral ecologist Aliza LeRoux told "Nightline's" Bill Weir.
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    Everywhere you look there is another 50-pound monkey with two-inch teeth, an insatiable appetite and the intelligence of a 4-year-old.
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    A few months ago, a local baboon-loving local hotel owner made an interesting proposition. After years of trying to keep the animals out, he suggested letting them in to gain a better understanding of how the monkeys tick. He offered up this bungalow, which National Geographic rigged with cameras and microphones. Soon the most primal reality TV show, "Big Baboon House," was born.
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    The Nat Geo WILD crew tried to create the appearance of a normal holiday cottage, complete with furniture, electricity, running water, books, a Christmas tree and a flat screen TV. They never expected the baboons to take a bath or order a pizza, but they wanted to see how long it would take them to figure out how to feed themselves in a human kitchen.
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    "They know how to use things, but they always go for the simplest options," LeRoux said. "They try everything, it's always trial and error learning, they'll figure out a way, it's not so much a sign of planning or intelligence or anything like that, it's more trial and error learning, this is what they do."
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    The baboons provided all the typical trappings of a reality TV show: Nasty political alliances, the occasional slap fight and rampant sex. LeRoux said the males ruled the roost. "This is a resource they can hoard to themselves and they can keep the females out," she said. "We saw very little development of intelligence because they were constantly bickering."
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    Baboons don't use tools the way chimpanzees sometimes do, but the Nat Geo team set up a number of challenges to see how much the monkeys could figure out. One experiment used a vending machine that dispensed fruit with the push of a button, but most of the monkeys spent hours trying to eat the machine.
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    Another experiment involved suspending a fruit basket above a trampoline, which provided some of the best entertainment when a large male baboon ripped it down and set the fruit flying into the air.
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    The "Big Baboon House" project has been valuable, LeRoux said, because the monkeys exhibited different behaviors in the house than she had seen them do in the wild. "I'm not aware of any project that's actually investigated what happens when baboons break into a house," she said.
    National Geographic
  • Big Baboon Bungalow

    LeRoux said she is fascinated by baboons because their behavior often mirrors human behavior. "If a mother suddenly acts irritated with her kid... and bites him on the head, I'm like, 'I understand you,'" she said. "I think that's why I like them so much, I think it's the connection I feel with them." "Big Baboon House" premieres on June 23 at 8 p.m. ET on the National Geographic Channel.
    National Geographic
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