Discerning Baboon Stops to Dine at Cape Winery: 'This One Clearly Loved Italian Cuisine'

A baboon walks into a bar at a South African winery ...

Discerning Baboon Stops to Dine at Cape Winery: 'This One Clearly Loved Italian Cuisine'
It's rude to stare. (Courtesy of Groot Constantia)
Sep 19, 2019

The railway superintendent was impressed with his new employee, a signalman. "Jack knows the signal whistle as well as I do, also every one of the levers," wrote George Howe in 1890. A good performance review, and indeed, Jack reportedly never made an error on the job in nine years. The Uitenhage, South Africa, resident was paid 20 cents a day and half a bottle of beer each week, a competitive wage for a chacma baboon.

A century and change after the signalman (signalmonkey?) earned the respect of his ostensibly more evolved hominid peers, chacmas still sometimes think they're people, and "quite civilized" ones at that, as visitors to South Africa's Groot Constantia winery were recently reminded. The winery had an unexpected dinner guest earlier this month when a mature chacma made its way into the on-site restaurant and helped itself to quite a nice two-course meal. Apparently unperturbed by the mild shock and alarm of the other, larger primates around it, the baboon dug into a plate of spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread. The winery has had simian drop-ins before, but "this is the first time one has taken the time to sit down and enjoy a full spread of the best," marketing manager of Constantia Lila Jutzen told Unfiltered via email, adding they'd christened their new patron "Spaghetti."

Asked about a wine pairing, Jutzen said, "We have a strict policy of confidentiality by keeping under wraps the wine preferences of celebrities and other famous people [/mammals] who have visited our estate in the past. You can ask Ed Sheeran." After all, this isn't some crawling-down-drunk koala or spaced-out seal.

On a more serious note, the winery emphasized that the dine-and-dash culprit was not harmed, and a "special baboon fence" on the property keeps most of them on the other side of nature. As Constantia is a longtime supporter of the World Wildlife Foundation, and the Baboon Conservation Authorities specifically, Jutzen said that "training will be given to estate and restaurant staff on how to manage the situation—which entails attempting to scare the baboon away without creating any undue aggression from the animal." It's their home too, after all. "It is essential to honor the natural habitats and environment in which we operate!"


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