May has been a month of unremitting and undeniable cuteness at the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. As the weather continues to warm and move we steadily into the Japanese spring, we continue to welcome baby macaques to the monkey park!
Our guides and guests have delighted in their daily visits as more and more babies appear clinging to their mothers and taking their first awkward steps and stumbles in the park.
Some mothers seem nervous and are protective of their little ones while others are more relaxed, allowing their bubs to explore a little (but never too far). In the early weeks after giving birth, you’ll see the mums keeping a gentle grip on their baby’s hind leg to ensure they can’t stray, fall over rocks or into the water!
The park itself is looking beautiful as it bursts back into life after the long winter. A landscape of white is now turned green as the new growth of early spring matures into the shrubs and flowers that now cover the valley and mountainsides, providing the monkey troop with endless exploration.
Most days are warm and the sun glances off the onsen (hot spring), encouraging some of the younger snow monkeys to frolic and swim. Their joy is obvious and they seem to relish jumping on their friends’ heads and pulling stray monkey legs underwater.
The more senior members of the troop go about their business much as usual, enjoying the easy availability of wild plants and vegetables or sitting in the spring breeze and sun.
Recently our guides have noticed that the troop alpha male Tomamu (pictured below), has been appearing more frequently in the park and often positions himself nearby the box in which park rangers store food.
This is noteworthy. Tomamu regularly stays away from the park or shows cool indifference to the temptation of food. He’s boss and he likes to show it. The winter however looks like it’s taken a toll on him. Now approaching 23 years of age, Tomamu looks weary. In a troop in which the oldest macaque is 24, Tomamu might not have much more fight left in him…
… and no doubt, the younger aspirant alpha males have noticed.
Join one of our knowledgeable guides on a daily tour to not just visit monkey park but experience and learn about the springtime lives of the Snow Monkeys of Japan!