Japanese Snow Monkeys Love Hot Springs
Parts of Japan are very cold and it is very hard to keep warm. Monkeys cannot build a fire or put on layers of clothes, so how do they try and keep warm? Well, Monkey fur is very warm indeed, but here the Japenese Snow Monkeys take a hot spa. These are fascinating pictures.
Jigokudani Yaen-koen is located in the Valley of Yokoyu River which takes its water from Shiga-Kogen of the Jyoshinetsu-Kogen National Park in the northern part of Nagano prefecture. Not so long ago, the Japanese macaques which live in these snow covered mountains of Jigokudani Yaen-koen discovered the strategy of staying warm in the natural hot springs. In the early 1960s, a very young monkey accidentally learned to take an open-air bath at a local hostel. Other monkeys gradually started behaving in the same manner. Local citizens built an open-air bath as the monkeys’ private onsen (Japanese hot spring) because it is unfavorable from a hygiene standpoint if monkeys use the same bath as humans. Since then monkeys inherited the behavior of bathing. Now, only some decades later, they not only bathe on a daily basis, these highly intelligent monkeys seem to have adapted to this aquatic environment. While many of the adaptations do not appear to have a survival purpose (as in Darwin’s evolution theory), whole troops of Japanese macaques engage in the activity as a social process.