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Bleeding Heart Baboons

February 10, 2015

Bleeding Heart Baboons

- as seen by -

Julie Larsen Julie Larsen

Red is the color of power and passion, energy and action. A heart of red can mean romance. And gelada baboons wear their hearts on their chests.

The ruddy patch of hairless skin on a gelada’s chest changes in appearance with its reproductive readiness. For a female, a fiery red patch is a sexual cue that she is receptive to mating. A male gelada displays a heart-shaped chest patch that is more brightly colored in dominant males with greater access to reproductive females. His patch will quickly fade when he has lost his dominance status and breeding privileges within baboon society.

Native to the high plateaus of Ethiopia, geladas are social animals, maintaining reproductive units. They can withstand colder temperatures thanks to the long, heavy capes of hair that drape down their backs.

Keeping up their color and coiffure is easier in mutual grooming groups like this trio of gelada males at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo – each hopes to one day become a breeding male among the bleeding heart baboons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Take a great photo of red in nature and submit it to the blog. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re celebrating the color red in this month’s assignment.

Nikon D4, Vanguard Alta Pro Aluminum Alloy Tripod

Bronx , USA Map It


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  • Siddhartthan
    May 5, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    A perfect shot…! Good depiction of geladas in a single pic.

    WCS Photo Blog
    May 8, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Thank you! Our Bronx Zoo baboons are great photographic subjects, or just fun to watch. They are currently enjoying the spring weather at the zoo.

    Pamela J Braden
    August 14, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    I love the information you shared on your website. I love all primates. I’m particularly fascinated with the beautiful Orangutans, Gibbons, Macaques, and several others. I’m still learning. I wish I could afford to go to Indonesia (Borneo and/or Sumatra) to see the sanctuaries. It breaks my heart that the tropical rainforest have been so horribly destroyed in many areas of Borneo. The murders of the mother orangutans and the babies taken from them to be sold in the illegal pet trade is just hideous to me. Not enough words to say how I feel. God bless you and thanks for your wonderful writing. Sincerely, Pam in Chicago