Surprise Macaque Birth at Zoo de Granby
July 12, 2016
Photo Credits: Zoo de Granby
Keepers at Zoo de Granby had a small, yet big, surprise last month. In the middle of June, they discovered a female Japanese Macaque baby in the exhibit.
Keepers, on their morning rounds, were first alerted to the newborn by her screeches. The mother had rejected and abandoned the small monkey, so staff quickly intervened and placed the baby in an incubator.
The wee one was recently given the name Kimi and has been carefully tended by keepers for the past four weeks. She will remain off-exhibit until old enough to join the Zoo’s troop.
Kimi is also the first Macaque to be born at Granby in ten years!
The Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata), also known as “snow monkey”, is a terrestrial Old World monkey species that is native to Japan. They get their name "snow monkey" because they live in areas where snow covers the ground for months each year (no other nonhuman primate is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate). Individuals have brown-grey fur, red faces, and short tails. Two subspecies are known.
In Japan, the species is known as Nihonzaru (Nihon 日本 "Japan" + saru 猿 "monkey") to distinguish it from other primates, but the Japanese Macaque is very familiar in Japan. When Japanese people simply say “saru”, they usually have in mind the Japanese Macaque.
In the wild, a male and female form a pair bond and mate, feed, rest, and travel together, and this typically lasts 16 days on average during the mating season. Females enter into consortships with an average of four males a season. Females attempt to mate with males of any rank.
A Macaque mother will move to the periphery of her troop to give birth in a secluded spot, unless the group is moving, when the female must stay with it. Macaques usually give birth on the ground. Infants are born with dark-brown hair. They consume their first solid food at five to six weeks old, and can forage independently from their mothers by seven weeks. A mother carries her infant on her belly for its first four weeks. After this time, the mother carries her infant on her back, as well. Infants continue to be carried past a year. A mother and her infant tend to avoid other troop members, and the mother may socialize again very slowly. Male care of infants occurs in some groups, but not in others; usually, older males protect, groom, and carry an infant as a female would.
Infants have fully developed their locomotive abilities within three to four months. When an infant is seven months old, its mother discourages suckling; full weaning happens by its 18th month. In some populations, male infants tend to play in larger groups more often than females. However, female infants have more social interaction than their male counterparts. Males prefer to associate with other males around the same age, when they are two years old. Female infants will associate with individuals of all ages and sexes.
The Japanese Macaque is omnivorous and eats a variety of foods. Over 213 species of plants are included on the macaque's diet. It also eats insects, bark, and soil.
The species is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. Traditional manmade threats to Macaques have been slash-and-burn agriculture, use of forest woods for construction and fuel, and hunting. These threats have declined due to social and economic changes in Japan, but other threats have emerged. The replacement of natural forest with lumber plantations is the most serious threat.