Human Interest

In a first, alpha female leads troop of snow monkeys in Japan zoo

Tokyo, Jan 28 (EFE).- Yakei has become the first alpha female to lead a troop of Japanese macaques at a reserve in Oita prefecture, an unusual occurrence among the species of primates.

Yakei’s rise to power has caught the attention of the managers of the Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden, located on the southernmost Japanese island of Kyushu, and has attracted more visitors to this reserve where macaques roam freely.

“I do not know of any other such case,” Satoshi Kimoto, a guide at the reserve, told EFE on telephone.

Kimoto said males usually lead troops and relinquish their leadership by the ranking of age.

Yakei is the first alpha female in the reserve’s 70-year history.

She rose to the top of the hierarchy after overthrowing the group’s former leader last summer, according to the guide.

Yakei is currently 9, equivalent to about 30 human years.

Nanchu, who had been an alpha male of the group for five years, was 32 years old.

Yakei was “officially” enthroned in July last year as leader of Takasakiyama’s 677-strong “troop B” at an “appointment ceremony” in which the reserve’s officials recognized her new position, Kimoto said.

Yakei weighs nine kilograms (20 pounds) to her male counterpart’s 14-15 kg/ But her “unique” personality has led her to stand up to them unhesitatingly.

“She is very gentle, a mother who takes very good care of her young. But sometimes she displays a very aggressive side (with the males). It is as if she has a switch that brings out that side of her,” the guide said.

The Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys, inhabit the northernmost region of Japan’s main island, which is the world’s coldest spot inhabited by primates.

Over 100,000 specimens of these monkeys are estimated to be scattered across the Japanese archipelago. EFE


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