Snow Monkey Babies -- The Ultimate Reason to See Snow Monkeys Without Snow!
Thinking of visiting the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park outside of winter? The Snow Monkey
babies make up for lack of snow with their cuteness.
The most iconic “Snow Monkey” scene of the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is a Japanese macaque soaking in the onsen bath with a sublimely blissful look on its face as the falling snow collects on its head. So the ideal season to go is winter, right? Well actually, the monkeys are just as amusing and photogenic during the other three seasons, and their social structure and interaction is fascinating to observe all year-round. Plus, the babies that are born in the spring time are just the cutest little furballs running all over the place.
Yes, Snow Monkey Babies! Born around May and June, the troupe that inhabits Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park usually sees about 30 new babies each year. You’ll see these adorable little ones clinging to their mothers, rough-housing with each other, splashing through the onsen bath, and generally being as ‘kawaii’ (cute) as can be imagined. With their large eyes filled with curiosity, and wrinkly little fingers gingerly grasping objects around them, they bear a striking resemblance to us humans.
The great thing about the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is that you can observe the monkeys up close, in their very midst. You enter their natural environment. It’s not like a zoo where a fence or wall separates you from the animals. The monkeys roam as they please, pretty much ignoring the humans. The park staff feed the monkeys just enough so that they don’t go off foraging for food and never return, but don’t feed them too much to where they depend on people for survival. The park is a research facility, studying the social make-up of the troupe, and observing their lifestyle throughout the year. It is heart-wrenching to see a runt struggling to persevere. While the staff could step in and medically treat the weak ones, they let nature take its course. Again, the park is not a zoo. The monkeys are basically left in their wild, natural state, and the baby snow monkeys are naturally the cutest thing you’ll ever see!
Even when there is no snow, or perhaps especially when there is no snow, the baby Snow Monkeys make visiting Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park worthwhile in the spring, summer and fall. Oh, and make sure to charge your camera batteries before going because they are cute!
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