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Man's Other Best Friend

February 23, 2012

Eva Gusnowski

I love a good animal story, especially the ones that make you stop and think how intelligent and compassionate other species actually are. This isn’t a science story per se, but since I’m a scientist, I’m going to let this one through. Because I can.

Jackie the baboon was found by Alfred Marr on his South African farm, and quickly became a loved family pet. So much so that when Marr enlisted in the South African army in 1915 to fight in WWI, he brought Jackie along with him. To the war…and to the front lines to be exact.

 

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Jackie quickly became the mascot of the 3rd South African Infantry, becoming a companion and relief to the fighting soldiers. They even made him his own adorable little uniform. He would salute, stand at ease, and apparently ate with a fork and knife. He spent three years on the front lines, and was a significant help on night watch because of his enhanced night vision and sense of hearing compared to the average human soldier at the time. When Marr was shot in the shoulder, Jackie stayed beside him until the stretchers could come and take him away. Jackie himself was injured at a battle in Reninghelst in 1918, and was brought to the emergency tent by Marr where Jackie’s leg was amputated.

 

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Discharged at the end of the war, Jackie’s uniform had 3 blue chevrons signifying 3 years service at the front lines, and a gold wound chevron. Once home in Pretoria, Jackie was awarded the Pretoria Citizen’s Service Medal.  Once discharged, Jackie and Marr did a number of tours to raise money for the Red Cross, where they sold postcards, pictures and handshakes with the famous veteran.

 

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Such an incredible story, Jackie even made it into the Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats (1976).

Obviously there’s a lot of skepticism surrounding a story like this…but even if it wasn’t true, those are some pretty awesome pictures of a monkey in a uniform.  And what more can you really ask for?

 

All pictures are from the South African Military Veterans Organisation of Australasia...more about this story there!

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