Baboons sniff out a better orange
A baboon is seen near a road outside Cape Town, South Africa, last year.
January 13th, 2011
01:51 PM ET

Baboons sniff out a better orange

Want to find the sweetest citrus in the orchard? Ask a baboon.

A group of baboons in South Africa is being credited with sniffing out a new, sweeter variety of orange.

Alwyn van der Merwe, production director of ALG Estates near Citrusdal, South Africa, said the farm noticed that baboons that come down to the farm from nearby mountains each year always went to feed from a particular tree among the thousands in the orchards. The animals stripped the tree clean of fruit well before others in the orchard were in season, he said.

"At closer inspection we discovered that the brix [sweetness grade] of this particular minneola, a soft citrus variety, was much higher than the rest of the orchard and that it started bearing fruit at least three weeks earlier than expected," van der Merwe said, according to a report in the Mail & Guardian newspaper.

" It was clearly a case of a spontaneous mutation in the orchard, which would have gone unnoticed were it not for the baboons,” van der Merwe is quoted as saying.

Growers have begun grafting shoots from the baboon’s favorite tree onto other root stock and hope to be producing large quantities of the sweeter minneola in a few years.

And he knows the baboons will likely be the first customers.

"I'm sure they will have a feast one day when we produce a whole orchard of these early sweet minneolas," he said.

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Filed under: Animals • South Africa
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. pigpork

    i need a baboon. i need to know which of my oranges are ripe and sweet. T_T

    January 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pigpork

    Becauseshe is weird. duuuuuuuuuh

    January 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. pigpork

    anyone here??? O_O

    January 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. baboongoon

    Now if only we could train them the sniff out weirdos and idiots, the world would be a better place. Lets start with Congress....

    January 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AMERICA 1st

    maybe the fruit eating baboons in africa can show the one washington how to be a fruity baboon!

    January 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alfred E. Newman

    Baboons working at WalMart would be an upgrade and they probably could be taught English faster.

    January 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. AMERICA 1st

    do ya think the african baboons can teach washington a thing or two?

    January 13, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. drap

    Fantastic piece,great journalism ,truly nailbiting stuff........ W0W !!!

    January 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ori

    I Seen A White Baboon In Macy The White House And At Your House.

    January 13, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. whatever

    America 1# You Are Asilly Man You,re A Racist And That Real Sad All Those White Baboons In The Whlte House With The Pink Azz And Guess What Im White.

    January 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy

    Maybe it's the oranges that makes their butts so attention grabbing...

    But on the other hand, who gives a baboon's a$$?

    January 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mikey

    One person said that the local produce is grown in america well we import a lot of fruit and veggies

    January 13, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Musomesa

      That is the only way to get fresh fruit all year unless we go for greenhouses

      January 16, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kennel Karl

    I had a baboon once,when people came to see her she would throw orange's at them...

    January 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. deanna

    current event

    January 14, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. sars

    they are a delight and they are a beautiful animal.
    they are me a few years back

    January 14, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
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