Swingin’ Simians: Baboons Get Their Own Reality Show

by | June 7, 2012 at 11:04 AM | TV News

A troop of baboons are ready for their closeup on the new reality series "Big Baboon House" (Photo: AP)

Oh, brother! A TV producer who once worked on “Big Brother” has joined forces with a producer from the world of wildlife TV to create a reality series starring a tribe of baboons.

The resulting series — titled “Big Baboon House” — is already drawing comparisons to such human-based “reality” TV shows as “Jersey Shore” and … well, just “Jersey Shore.”

The comparison is cheeky, of course, because the South African baboons of “Big Baboon House” are indeed living in a house instead of in the wild. And coincidentally, one of them, a young male, happens to be named Cheeky. The show, announced this week, premieres with three back-to-back, one-hour episodes on Saturday, June 23, on Nat Geo Wild (starting at 8/7c).

For the show, six baboons have been set up in a house wired with mics and cameras. Certainly, they’ve been billeted in this house for our entertainment, but also as an experiment aimed at observing and learning about how these animals behave inside a human habitat.

The research will hopefully help scientists, behaviorists and animal-control specialists to devise ways of battling home invasions by wild baboons, which happens to be a big problem in this particular South African town and, presumably, other places as well. Apparently, the baboons have learned how to get inside human homes and then, once inside, where to look for food.

But Nat Geo Wild is also hoping to draw an audience with this series in which the baboon participants have been humanized with names such as the aforementioned “Cheeky”; “Scar,” described as “a dominant male”; “Lefty,” a male who somehow lost his left arm (and under those circumstances, his name seems a little mean); “Rambo,” another male described as “a bully”; and, get this, a same-sex couple, two males named “Ziggy” and “Ray.”

With issues such as bullying and same-sex relationships, “Big Baboon House” is nothing if not topical.

The producers behind “Big Baboon House” are Phil Fairclough, whose credits include “Grizzly Man,” “Squid Invasion” and “When Fish Attack”; and Jon Kroll, who worked on “Big Brother,” “Amish in the City,” “High School Confidential” and other shows.

Just for fun, check out this story that compares “Big Baboon House” to “Jersey Shore” and a few other reality shows.

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