The UK may be struggling to keep warm, and fully-functioning, in the current extended freeze but it's not just human inhabitants who are feeling the effects. In spite of their attractive brown fur coats, the 135-strong band of baboons - at Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside - have lost their appetite for their habitual diet of cold fruit and veg (with a small amount of meat thrown in, every now and then, for good measure). So, the responsive staff decided to make good use of the hundredweight of potatoes they had been donated over the festive period.
As they're closed, due to the frozen inclement conditions, a practical decision was made to employ their comprehensive kitchen facilities and satisfy their most popular inmates, with an en-masse potato bake-in.
When it came to serving the piping-hot jacket potatoes, General Manager, David Ross, told me how impressively the baboons marched-out in an orderly, single-file manner, sensibly making a convenient path for their posse to follow. Wonderfully, the potatoes served a dual purpose - warming the recipient's hands as they held them and fuelling them comfortingly, as they consumed them. David went on to explain how, unusually, there was no squabbling or fighting for priority in the orderly food line - only good-natured, well-socialised behaviour.
I discovered some other fascinating baboon facts along the way... they're by far the most popular animal group at the Safari Experience, as David Ross explains:"they never let anyone down". Their behaviour can be "vandalistic" but they live in social, family groups, for between 20-30 years. The 135-strong band includes six - even more adorable - babies.
Photo courtesy of Knowsley Safari Park