So What’s With the Talking Baboons, Anyway?

Guest post from Executive Producer Jon Kroll

Of the comedic tone we took in editing Big Baboon House, one of the biggest creative decisions we faced was: should the baboons “speak”? Ultimately, we determined that since we were making every effort to develop the baboons as archetypical reality show characters, it would help to add dialogue to some of the scenes.

At first, we added too much baboon dialog to the show, and it felt like the inmates were taking over the asylum. Then we pulled back too much and found some of the scenes feeling dry and missing the monkey talk. Eventually we settled on a balance that felt right. We found that the scenes in which the characters were exhibiting more typical baboon behavior needed no dialogue at all – in fact, in many cases, their natural vocalizations portrayed more emotional clarity than anything we could have come up with. But in the more stylize scenes – the competitions, the beach trip and the unforgettable Christmas celebration – the dialogue played more effectively.

While adding the dialogue was certainly stretching the typical boundaries of a nature documentary, we were dedicated to bending and sometimes breaking the rules throughout the creative process of this show. That said, in the end we tried to be sure to infuse the show with plenty of factual takeaway from this unique social experiment.

Tune in to Big Baboon House on Nat Geo WILD this Saturday from 8-11P to see for yourself.


  1. Lawrence
    June 22, 2012, 8:46 pm

    Great clip!

  2. Mikenzo
    New York
    June 23, 2012, 10:55 pm

    I thought this was a scientific show but it’s just childish nonsense. Too bad. It could’ve been interesting to watch.

  3. Marilyn Snyder
    Las Vegas, NV
    June 24, 2012, 12:46 am

    I love the talking baboons on Big Baboon House, just love them!!! And you really should keep Rikki the mongoose too! He’s just hilarious! It keeps it all interesting and humorous at the same time!

  4. Rob
    California, USA
    June 24, 2012, 9:11 pm

    I really enjoyed the new Big Baboon House, being a retired military type the suggestive four letter word bleep’s do not bother me, just walk in a shopping mall and listen to everyone one on a cell phone, you hear the real thing, and the kid’s hear it too!
    I may have enjoyed it, but it was a real shock once I thought about it, Nat.Geo.Mag,. was a staple when i was young, I read the first edition!

    Think it would be wise to cool off the suggestive language, the show would be a hit without it anyway.

  5. Shane
    June 25, 2012, 5:20 pm

    Entertaining looking show. Too bad about the voiceovers. With just some baboons and a narrator, this looks good, but the terrible voices seem to make it unwatchable.

  6. Suz
    San Diego
    June 28, 2012, 12:49 am

    Loved all 3 hours of the show. Please let me know when you show it again or have new shows. I want to share with my mother and her friends! They are all in in their 90’s.

  7. Ashley
    South Africa
    July 3, 2012, 4:40 am

    Whilst I love nature movies – in this case I am really upset with National Geographic. It would seem commercial greed has overtaken – and in this instance has actually artificially attracted the baboons – thereby endangering the whole community who have been trying to dissuade the gorillas for so long !! This is counter-productive.

  8. Kate
    Cape Town, South Africa
    July 3, 2012, 9:20 am

    Not sure I agree with the making of this show, as it encourages baboons to associate people with food which is very dangerous for both the people and baboons. Furthermore seeing as this is filmed in Pringle Bay, South Africa, if you are going to give the baboons voices, surely the baboons should have South African accents…

  9. Craige
    South Africa
    July 3, 2012, 10:00 am

    With all the challenges facing baboons in the Cape it was an extremely irresponsible act to teach these baboons to break into a house to find food. The idea that you made it more difficult each time and thus taught them how to get around the barriers has most probably sentenced these animals to death.
    Not a great moment for National Geographic or the ethical treatment of animals….simply for the “humour” of a baboon talking – big fail.

  10. Lee Jones
    Cape Town, South Africa
    July 5, 2012, 3:08 am

    This is an incredibly irresponsible undertaking, which leaves the baboons at high risk of being euthenized.