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May 6, 2014

This war hero is no monkey

The world of animal life found on this planet we call earth is full of wonders that never fail to amaze me. Animals are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. A classic example of this is a chocma baboon named Jackie that you have probably never heard of. This primate was given the honorary rank of corporal in the British army, and even ended up with a combat medal.

It all began on a farm near Villieria, South Africa, in the early 1900s. A man named Albert Marr found a baboon on his property and made a pet out of this animal. Now this often is not a good idea as human-wild creature relationships can have serious consequences, as has happened on a number of occasions.

Jackie turned out to be very intelligent and was easily trained. When World War I began, Marr joined the Third South Africa Infantry Regiment and brought his pet along with him. The baboon soon became so well-liked by the members of the regiment that he became its mascot. He was even given a specially made uniform and his own pay book. In 1915 the regiment went off to the war zones in Turkey and Egypt.

At the Battle of Agagia on Feb. 26, 1916, Marr was wounded and Jackie would not leave his master until a medical team arrived and found the baboon licking the wound, trying his best to help his friend.

Jackie went along as he made a great camp guard. With his acute hearing he was able to hear approaching troops long before his human companions. The baboon would give out a series of barks and then tugged on Marr’s tunic, giving the alarm.

The battle front move into Belgium and in a savage encounter in West Flanders both Marr and Jackie were wounded by an exploding artillery shell. Jackie’s right leg was nearly severed, and both human and ape were taken to an aid station.

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