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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Call to ban zoo baboon breeding
Mother Jill with bald baby Reggie: Picture South West News Agency
"Stressed" baboon and son: Photo:SWNS/2dayUK
A baboon mother's "over-zealous" grooming of her baby to baldness at a Devon zoo is a sign of stress, says an animal rights group.

Reggie the hamadryas baboon has had his hair licked and plucked off by his mother at Paignton Zoo, it was revealed earlier this month.

Now People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has called on the zoo to stop hamadryas baboon breeding.

The zoo rejected Peta's call and said the baboons showed no signs of stress.

Reggie and his mother are two of a 53-strong baboon troop at Paignton.

Peta said that Dr Robert Sapolsky, a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research in Kenya, had in his 26 years of studying wild baboon populations in East Africa, never seen a mother baboon pluck her baby bald.

'Usual self'

"It is obvious to casual observers and baboon experts alike that these highly intelligent, social and freedom-loving animals suffer as a result of being cooped up in zoo exhibits," said Peta campaign co-ordinator Anita Singh.

"It may be too late for Reggie, his mother and the other baboons in distress at Paignton Zoo, but we call on Mr Tonge to prevent the suffering of additional baboons by immediately enacting a breeding ban."

Zoo spokesman Phil Knowling responded: "I have no reason to believe we have a problem here.

"Our staff would be the first to flag up any problems."

He added that Reggie was "his usual pesky self".

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