The Untold Truth Of Jackie, The Baboon Who Fought In WWI

On any given day, there seems to be a solid chance that a person can go to the news outlet of their choice and find a zany story about someone bringing their self-described service animal out in public with disastrous results. In recent years, we have seen service hamsters flushed down airplane toilets, emotional support peacocks denied their God-given travel privileges, and miniature horses offered more seating on planes than your average Kevin Smith. It can be a little disheartening, and cause one to hearken back to a simpler time. A time when animals were animals and people were people, and you could only bring a zoological companion with you into the workplace if it was, objectively speaking, super awesome.

Which brings us to World War I and the 3rd South African Infantry Regiment's most iconic member: Jackie, the lovable Chacma baboon who witnessed more trench warfare savagery than the snowflake, iPhone-loving primates of today could ever fathom.

A baboon might seem over the top

The roles that animals have played in war have been varied and incredible. From horses to pigeons to, per Business Insider, bomb-sniffing dolphins, there has never been a creature that humans haven't considered drafting to the cause of showing that dastardly Kaiser what's what. Enter Jackie, a baboon found by South African farmer Albert Marr sometime before the Great War. Marr kept Jackie as a pet and, according to All That's Interesting, trained him to hang out around the house, behaving himself as best a baboon can.

Marr was enlisted in 1915 and put in a request to bring his beloved old world monkey with him on his journey. In a surprising twist, the brass acquiesced, and Jackie was set up with "a uniform, complete with buttons and regimental badges, a cap, a pay book, and his own set of rations." He was trained to salute superior officers and to light soldiers' cigarettes, and he served as a lookout of sorts, alerting his fellow servicemen to the approach of any unfamiliar presence. After losing a leg in a firefight, the baboon was promoted to corporal and awarded a medal for valor.

Most astonishingly, Jackie survived the whole ordeal. After the war was over he received, no kidding, a military pension, and retired to the Marr family farm where he passed away in 1921, tragically gone too soon to facilitate what would've been a banger of a Captain America team-up story a few decades later.