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Observations On the Mental and Manipulative Abilities of a Captive Baboon (Papio Doguera)

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image of Behaviour

The present paper is a description of the various performances of a baboon, and how it learned to solve various problems. 1. The animal noticed when strings were not connected with the bait or interrupted. In its choice it was not appreciably disturbed by strings crossing the correct one. 2. Sticks were favourite tools for raking in food. They were also balanced on end while the animal climbed up them to reach overhead bait. 3. If the stick available was not long enough to rake in some food it was used for raking in a longer stick which could be used to get the food. 4. The animal learned, after a few trials, to push one end of a bar to one side to receive food from the other end of the bar. It also learned, without difficulty, to drop a stone into a "slot machine" to obtain food. 5. A case is described in which the animal apparently deliberately set a banana swinging in a certain direction by throwing sticks at it. Having got it swinging it tried to reach it from an upright pipe. 6. It was found that practically all performances and solutions of problems were based on a very small innate repertoire of behaviour and that the manipulative abilities were very limited due to the anatomical structure of arm and hand. 7. Actions not conforming with the innate repertoire could in most cases be learned with difficulty only, or not at all. 8. The animal was able to combine two actions learned separately into one sequence to solve a problem. 9. The ability to manipulate sticks and use them as tools is not innate but a result of learning. The animal becomes familiar with the possibilities of sticks during its play with them.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, the University of Ibadan. Formerly of Makerere College, Kampala


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