The Baboon That Controlled a Railway for 9 Years
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The Baboon That Controlled a Railway for 9 Years

August 10, 2019

This video was made possible by Ecosia. Start using the search engine that plants
trees with every search you make at 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’s
in South Africa. Back in ye olde 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
in that they consisted of fixed posts with movable discs or signage that could be controlled
via 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” because
he 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 trains
proficiently. 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’t
particularly 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 with
their 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
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 incoming
engineers. 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 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 Jumper
and 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 separate
tracks 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 and
a 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, 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. Head to to add it to your browser
so you can start planting trees one search at a time.


  • Reply James Cronin July 13, 2019 at 9:03 am

    I hear that Amazon is considering hiring them to fill orders….

  • Reply Philbyd 123 July 13, 2019 at 9:11 am

    That was damn interesting.thanks

  • Reply AdmiralBonetoPick July 13, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Checks date of post to see if it this was uploaded on 1st April.

  • Reply mwaiTV July 13, 2019 at 9:56 am

    U N B E L I E V A B L E

  • Reply John Ruddy July 13, 2019 at 10:04 am

    Karl Pilkington was not full of shit!

  • Reply calvingreene90 July 13, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Give the monkeys some loaded AKs and they might stop deforestation.

  • Reply 名前なし July 13, 2019 at 10:35 am

    This video made me laugh way to much

  • Reply CG-Recommended July 13, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Alright Karl…

  • Reply thomashrev July 13, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    'A baboon is not that different from human in brain capacity'

    Maybe your brain capacity, lol

  • Reply Isaac Bailey July 13, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Jokes on you, I was already using Ecosia as my primary search engine before I even knew this video existed!

  • Reply JUrry3 July 13, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    They will also eat the vinyl off your car.

  • Reply Tycho Mol July 13, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Cheeky open TTD reference.

  • Reply Jan Tschierschky July 13, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Well baboons don't live in the forest, but in open areas

  • Reply Zed July 13, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    That story just kept getting more and more ridiculous!

  • Reply Quantum Dewott July 14, 2019 at 5:32 am

    Can't believe that a baboon became the Fat Controller.

  • Reply Gerrit Maritz July 14, 2019 at 7:56 am

    That awesome feeling when a story from your obscure little hometown gets turned into a popular video 😀

  • Reply jim munsw July 14, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Hv a Jack Daniels 🍾🍻🍺

  • Reply Olai Dreisbach July 14, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    hi im a baboon, im like a man just less advanced and my railway is huge

  • Reply PARTHASARATHI SAMANTARAY July 14, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Can they work in Amazon warehouses?

  • Reply feroz khan July 14, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Yeah!! Monkeys can make YouTube documentaries too

  • Reply Tomasz Luniewski July 14, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Turns out…

  • Reply Duey Ledbetter July 14, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    i'mn kinda pissed off at how little he was paid.

  • Reply HomePlayTogether July 14, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    The Hai videos have become not much more than a Wikipedia article read aloud with some nice stock footage in the background.. The production quality really dropped a lot IMO

  • Reply Robert Emerson July 14, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    I've worked with a few baboons. Actually, they weren't quite that intelligent.

  • Reply Bill Malec July 14, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Was good until the BS at the end…

  • Reply nickpDK July 14, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    video ends at 4:20

  • Reply Java Stone July 14, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Wow. Do one with three baboons in Congress that are democrats that will vote against the President and fight the leadership of the democrats.

  • Reply Bird Doug July 14, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Jack rules

  • Reply Quill Maurer July 14, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    After some sort of 'confusion and delay':
    "What's going on with this railway, is it run by Monkeys?"
    "… Ummmm … Yes actually. But the monkey did his job right, don't blame him. It was the humans that screwed up."

  • Reply Maureen m July 14, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    We have baboons running our country. I believe other governments have something similar.

  • Reply mastermonarch July 14, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    Well America has a baboon as it's president so I'm not surprised.

  • Reply Mark Walker July 15, 2019 at 12:50 am

    What’s the big deal a baboon runs the White House

  • Reply Felipe Rodriguez July 15, 2019 at 4:23 am

    Jack died of tuberculosis he was a real man

  • Reply james goodwin July 15, 2019 at 8:09 am

    I didn’t know signalmen were counted by weight

  • Reply Matthew V Alcudia July 15, 2019 at 8:23 am

    How does a drunk monkey working at a railroad signal house get tuberculosis??!

  • Reply JAMP0T1 July 15, 2019 at 8:53 am

    But how was he strong enough to pull the levers

  • Reply Remix world July 15, 2019 at 9:00 am

    The flow and chemistry in this video is fucking amazong

  • Reply murad jawed July 15, 2019 at 9:57 am

    A baboon controlled railways for 9 years? How about the orangutan controlling a whole nation for almost 4 years now!

  • Reply Michael Macluskie July 15, 2019 at 10:57 am

    In Scotland we call the English pratts…"White Monkeys".

  • Reply Pallias Kamen July 15, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Everyone skips the ad to watch the vid… that video WAS the ad!

  • Reply user295295 July 15, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    The SA railways were better run back then.

  • Reply Clement Wong July 15, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    And monkeys could probably outperform a human in the congress.

  • Reply Pepsi Doggo July 15, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    nice OpenTTD reference with the signal selection

  • Reply Grim LEEDS BoY July 15, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    Naw I’m cool I’m gonna stay home and chill with my monkay, Dave chappelle

  • Reply Drew Watkins July 16, 2019 at 6:13 am

    Am i high? How can this story be real?

  • Reply ms_enj July 16, 2019 at 6:18 am

    0:59. That joke? Real smooth.

  • Reply Rafał Majewski July 16, 2019 at 8:28 am

    0:27 the game is OpenTTD

  • Reply Allan Baker July 16, 2019 at 10:19 am

    I clicked like just by seeing the title. ^_^

  • Reply Shawn Clark July 16, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    I watched this and concluded that a drunk baboon must be smarter than humans working in fast food who constantly mess up a simple food order

  • Reply Erick 0 July 16, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I'm liking the idea of a pet baboon more and more. Now I don't have to drink alone.

  • Reply Gary Jarvis July 17, 2019 at 1:31 am

    Jack is smarter than the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • Reply BlueJayRobin July 17, 2019 at 5:03 am

    The Executives were going to shock the monkey!
    Watch the monkey shock them.

  • Reply My July 17, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    ummm excuuuuuuse me… double one is called eleventy… My mum taught me that in home school.

  • Reply Robert Dolan July 17, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    any Pilkboys here?

  • Reply Lucas Liso July 18, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    With that salary, after 9 years, Jack made 657 dollars (or pounds, or whatever currency was used in South Africa then) and also 234 bottles of beer. This, in turn, would make him the wealthiest Baboon ever, I suppose.

  • Reply Patria Nostra July 21, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Just like O Bwana TRIED for almost 9 years

  • Reply sailaab July 21, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    Jack should have been around and had he ran for office, would still have been MUCH better than the current crop (crap) of parliamentarians we have. 🙁

  • Reply OR RΛVIV July 22, 2019 at 6:58 am


  • Reply Tommy Salami July 22, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    "The Baboon That Controlled a Railway" … in South Africa…
    Seems about right!

  • Reply Tommy Salami July 22, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    "The Baboon That Controlled a Railway" … in South Africa…
    Seems about right!

  • Reply Random user #74652819 July 22, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    It's official: A baboon is really better at its job than the Twitch moderators.

  • Reply Andrew Edward July 24, 2019 at 6:07 am

    Now that's cool

  • Reply InfinityDuoGaming July 25, 2019 at 4:12 am

    I read this in a book once

  • Reply Pat W July 25, 2019 at 9:39 am

    The only employee allowed to be drunk on the job

  • Reply Michael McCarthy July 26, 2019 at 3:54 am

    And I get impressed when I can get my dog to sit

  • Reply Bady89 July 26, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    They took the Joke "Our Employees are payed Monkeys" a bit to serious.

  • Reply Ronald Gillaspy July 26, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Very very interesting

  • Reply Jacob A J Taylor July 26, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    This is as unbelievable as unbelievable can be, but it is TRUE! – Sensational story and something that all of us can help. Enjoy!

  • Reply Arif Akyuz July 26, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    A literal ape can be a more productive and effective worker than most human employees.
    I don’t even have a clue what else to say about that!

  • Reply Chris Peters July 27, 2019 at 7:16 am

    Such a cool story. Wow for yaster year

  • Reply Benjamin Brady July 27, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    The baboon that controlled a youtube channel for 9 years

  • Reply Blu342 l July 27, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    It’s not a baboon, just a unevolved human.

  • Reply shtarrin July 27, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    He double checked his work. 🤯

  • Reply Sagittarius A * July 27, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Why are you talking so fast?
    First it's annoying and second – as far as I know – if your video is shorter than ten minutes your youtube monetizing will not work.

  • Reply Jose’s Garage July 27, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    Who keeps getting those annoying ass axe commercials?

  • Reply LectronCircuits July 28, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Jumper really had it pegged, and Jack wasn't just monkeying around. Both were very well trained. Cheers!

  • Reply Derebail Bharath July 28, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Best motivation for job, a Brandy, just wondering whether employers nowadays would allow this

  • Reply Aleksandar Grozdanoski July 29, 2019 at 3:54 am


  • Reply Gareth July 29, 2019 at 6:12 am

    Grahamstown represent!🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦

  • Reply james bramwells July 29, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Constantly drunk and a monkey, hhmmm sounds like some of the chefs I have worked with, and you wouldn't let them near sharp objects if you knew what was good for you.

  • Reply Deon Van der Westhuizen July 29, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    During the years of Jack the baboon, South Africa build our own steam locomotives and carriages. We extended our rail network to the third longest in the world. And the longest train in the world. Now, with the new "improved" government, we can not even buy the correct rail cars. This happened a few years ago when our brilliant government bough cars for transporting people in the sub-urban areas. When the carriages arrived, they were to tall to fit underneath the power lines. Then the minister said, no problem. We will use them on lines that have no power lines. Forgetting that there are no need for commuting in these far off rural areas. And forgetting that these rail cars need power. Then it was revealed that 20% was added to the cost of these cars, as bribes. Looks like Jack the baboon made less mistakes than our proud smart fat politicians. I wonder where those rail cars are parked now. I know this sounds impossible to believe. But Google it.

  • Reply k 1 July 30, 2019 at 12:50 am

    He seemed to be a very conscientious baboon.

  • Reply David James July 30, 2019 at 5:15 am

    He was most likely sharper than the current South African government employees and more dedicated to doing his job without stealing anything or taking bribes

  • Reply Taza M July 30, 2019 at 8:13 am

    Still run by baboons , pretty much

  • Reply Nurhan Yildirim July 30, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    french railway timetables are still managed by baboons to this date

  • Reply MOE FRITZ July 30, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    0:32… Is that not the white pride sign on the right?

  • Reply WALTER D CASTRO July 31, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Baboon there helping a lot there put a finger on that so sad 😔😢👨🏻‍💻👨🏻‍🏫🐵🙈🙉🙊🐒

  • Reply nick281972 July 31, 2019 at 10:55 am

    @3:20 "they were totally in the dark about his babooness" I'm dead 🤣

  • Reply Jacob Olson July 31, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Railway workers: Boss, i don't think you should pay us in bananas
    Baboon: I OWN YOU

  • Reply T 25 August 1, 2019 at 12:51 am

    Pay him, that man his money
    And give him beer

  • Reply Ambient Pizza August 1, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    Sounds kind of like something you would here from a racist bigot
    “Apes controlling things in Africa

  • Reply Dhanesh Nair August 2, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    A drunk man being monkey and a drunk monkey being human.

  • Reply Steve6438 August 3, 2019 at 1:48 am

    WTF…..just remember that, its a grant illusion….

  • Reply Henrik Thor August 3, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    The railway system in my country is also run by monkeys that looks a lot like humans, but they cannot do it without the aid of a computer – so Jack must have been more intelligent.

  • Reply Odin Woutan August 3, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Stupid humans

  • Reply Shubham Kumar August 3, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Best channel ever…

  • Reply mj Isenhart August 4, 2019 at 1:13 am

    4:13 rise of the planets of the aps don't say you weren't thinking the same thing

  • Reply Nightchair Records August 4, 2019 at 2:49 am

    This is the best story ever if I had worked on a railway for 9 years with a baboon that drank like a fish and had a flawless safety record I’d think it was the greatest shit of all time the guy probably thought so too

  • Reply whiteclifffl August 4, 2019 at 5:06 am

    That’s racist!

    You can’t call this employee a baboon…
    The proper term is negro.

  • Reply Sabrina Mitchell August 8, 2019 at 4:34 am

    Well this monkey has hurt my self worth a bit but thats ok

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