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Baboons will show how social they are at the Grape Festival

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 2:51 pm

Did you know there are seven kinds of baboons?

You’ll be able to see them at the Wild About Monkeys show coming to the Grape Festival this year.

Kevin Keith and his wife Martina, who own Monkey Business Productions in the Napa Valley, want to clear up a misconception that baboons are mean animals.

“They’re very, very social,” Kevin Keith said. “In my opinion, they’re the most social of the primates. We showcase their personalities.”

Although the show is primarily about monkeys, three dogs and three birds will entertain as well as interact with the audience, Kevin Keith says.

The 2014 Grape Festival will be the second time the Keiths have appeared in Lodi. They were here about four years ago, he said.

The Keiths have been in the animal training business for about 25 years. That includes supplying apes for movies, television and commercials. Their baboons have appeared in movies like “Evan Almighty.” A baboon named Mickey was featured in the Tom Cruise movie “Rock of Ages,” which was released in 2012.

The couple has also entertained at local festivals the past seven years.

“There really aren’t any traveling shows specializing in monkeys,” Keith said.

Prior to entertaining at festivals and having his animals used in movies, Kevin Keith was in charge of the primate shows at the former Marine World Africa USA, which was in Vallejo at the time. After nearly a decade at Marine World, Keith started his own business.

Now the Keiths go from coast to coast. They were at fairs in Idaho before coming to the Grape Festival this week. Next week, Lubbock, Texas, is on the schedule. Then it’s off to Georgia. California appearances have included Chico, Red Bluff, Porterville, Bakersfield, Sherman Oaks, San Bernardino, Indio and Ridgecrest.

Although the couple live in the Napa Valley, they have a Lodi connection in addition to the Grape Festival. They take their animals to Dr. Rick Turner at the Arbor Pet Clinic on North Sacramento Street.

“It’s an hour and a half drive, but he’s such a good vet, he’s worth it,” Keith said.

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