The Milwaukee County Zoo is excited to announce the birth of a Japanese macaque. The baby, whose sex is not yet known, was born May 1 to 9-year-old mom, Usagi, and 7-year-old dad, Kota. This marks the first offspring for Usagi and the fourth for Kota. Visitors can see the baby in the Macaque Island habitat. Japanese macaques are also known as snow monkeys, a terrestrial Old World monkey species native to Japan.
Old World monkey species include primates that live in a variety of habitats – everything from rainforests to dry plains. In these habitats, they spend much of their time on the ground. Most Old World monkeys have opposable or semi-opposable thumbs, instead of prehensile tails, allowing them to grab objects.
Zookeepers report that the baby is “bright and alert” and appears to be checking out its surroundings in the habitat. As a first-time mom, Usagi is doing great! She is very protective and nurturing toward the baby. Baby macaques stay close to mom, usually within an arm’s length for the first few months. After that time, young macaques will wander a farther distance away from mom and become mobile on their own.
Keepers also say that even though the rest of the group is interested in the baby, they are respectful of both the baby’s and Usagi’s space. There are several youngsters sharing the habitat with the new baby: 1-year-old Kumo, 2-year-old Nikko and 3-year-old Suki. A couple of the youngsters have tried to get close to the baby, but when that happens, Usagi usually chases them away. So far, the dynamics on the island have been nice and calm.
The baby is nursing from mom and won’t be eating solid foods for some time. Solid foods will include fruits, vegetables, greens and a commercial brand pellet called primate chow.
The macaques spend most of their time outdoors in the summer, so visitors should have many opportunities to see the baby grow. If they are not seen in their outdoor habitat, the macaques could be eating or taking a quick rest indoors.
No other non-human primate is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate than the Japanese macaque. Populations of macaques are stable in the wild, and an estimated 100,000 macaques currently live throughout Japan.