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Monkey see, monkey do.
Baboon see, baboon control a railway used
by multi-ton trains and thousands of passengers
That’s how it worked in the late 1800’sin South Africa.
Back in the old days radios didn’t exist and
since trains were loud, you couldn’t
just shout at the driver to tell them what to do.
Therefore, in the 1800s,
signals were developed as a way to tell incoming trains to stations what to do.
At first, lanterns and hand signals were used
by signalmen to convey the information needed
But as technology advanced signals that
could be controlled by switches and levers were
installed to ease the process.
These signals were similar to weathervanes
and that they consisted of fixed posts with
movable discs or signage that could be controlledvia a switch.
Various colors meant to stop or go or proceed with caution,
and there were other vanes on
different axes to indicate which tracks to pull
into once arriving at the stations and
various other signs meaning to take it to the left, right,
to criss-cross, to cha cha now,
to cha cha again, and for everybody to clap their hands.
With the world going loco
for locomotives at the time tons and tons of signalmen were
needed to ensure that the trains stuck to schedules,
were in working condition, and
stuck to the proper tracks.
Signalmen, as their names imply,
were also responsible for operating the levers that
would set off the signals for the trains out of the signal house.
In the 1870s, one of the signalman
for the Cape Town to Port Elizabeth Mainline Railroad
in South Africa was a man named James Wilde.
Wilde went by the nickname”Jumper” becausehe had a habit of jumping between the cars
that would pass on the tracks and
in a totally unforeseen and completely unpreventable twist
of fate, Jumper once jumped a moving railcar and fell
under it losing both of his legs in the process.
After this, Jumper continued working hobbling around
on a pair of peg legs although he found
himself limited in his ability to signal trainsproficiently.
Not having legs does that.
One day at the market, though,
Jumper came upon a chacma baboon who’d been trained to
lead an ox-drawn wagon.
Though impressive, its intelligence isn’tparticularly surprising by today’s standards.
We now know that baboons aren’t so different
from humans in their brain capacity.
Baboons can keep schedules, communicate withtheir own language
differentiate between scribbles and the written word,
and the University of Rochester recently concluded that baboons
are actually capable of counting to an extent
although I’m not sure what all the fuss
is about since I’ve been able to do that since
at least since I was double-one or twelve-teen.
Jumper begged and begged and finally convinced the owner
to let him take the baboon and thus
the prodigious primate pair was born.
The original owner warned Jumper, however,
that the baboon would refuse to work unless
he had been given plenty of brandy to drink.
They’re really just like us.
The baboon, named Jack,
was first taught to observe and then respond to certain commands
When Jumper would hold up a certain number of fingers,
Jack was to pull the corresponding lever.
From there, Jack learned
that the trains were giving similar orders by the number of blats
from their whistle.
Over time, Jack realized
on his known which tracks needed which signals and would double-check
his own work as he was doing it.
He also realized that conductors needed access to the coal sheds
and would retrieve the key from Jumper unbidden
to give to the incomingengineers
Now, if your job is replaceable by a monkey
you really shouldn’t be expecting much job security so surprise surprise
both Jack and Jumper’ s jobs eventually came under threat.
Jack was a beloved fixture of the railroad
until some snobby high-society aristocrat
注意到它 实际上 杰克和渣酿白兰地都被盯上了
noticed that he was, in fact, a monkey and narc’d on the pair
The bosses at the railway were aware
that Jumper had found an assistant but were totally
in the dark about his baboon-ness
After the Cape Town executives launched an investigation,
they found out the truth about the monkey business
So, naturally, they tried to fire both Jumperand Jack.
Jumper begged to demonstrate Jack’s cleverness and
so the rail managers agreed to put him to the test.
Jack perfectly performed his signaling abilities,
even checking both directions
to make sure the incoming trains were heading to separatetracks at the station.
They were so impressed that they made Jack an official employee
paying him 20 cents a day
and half a bottle of beer every week.
It’s been said that in the nine years Jack worked as a signalman
he never made a single mistake
despite being constantly drunk anda monkey.
Jack became known as “ Jack the Signalman”
and worked and lived with Jumper in a small cottage
not far from the signal house.
He stayed there and worked for the railroad
up until his death from tuberculosis in 1890
and his skull is now displayed at a museum in Grahamstown at South Africa
not far from where he worked.
Monkeys can do a lot like play the violin,
ride bicycles, roller-skate,
But what they can’t do is stop the systematic
and widespread deforestation of their natural habitat.
Luckily, you can and you don’t even
have to spend any money or effort to do it.
Ecosia is a nonprofit search engine
that uses the money generated from advertising to reforest
areas including places like Tanzania, Ethiopia,
and Burkina Faso where there are native baboons.
It only takes about 50 searches to plant one tree
so you can really easily make a difference.
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