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 Japanesemacaque soaking in the onsen bath with a sublimely blissful look on its face as the falling snowcollects on its head. So the ideal season to go is winter, right? Well actually, the monkeys arejust as amusing and photogenic during the other three seasons, and their social structure andinteraction is fascinating to observe all year-round. Plus, the babies that are born in thespring 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 theJigokudani Wild Monkey Park usually sees about 30 new babies each year. You’ll see theseadorable little ones clinging to their mothers, rough-housing with each other, splashingthrough the onsen bath, and generally being as ‘kawaii’ (cute) as can be imagined. With theirlarge eyes filled with curiosity, and wrinkly little fingers gingerly grasping objects aroundthem, they bear a striking resemblance to us humans.
The great thing about the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is that you can observe the monkeysup close, in their very midst. You enter their natural environment. It’s not like a zoo where afence or wall separates you from the animals. The monkeys roam as they please, pretty muchignoring the humans. The park staff feed the monkeys just enough so that they don’t go offforaging for food and never return, but don’t feed them too much to where they depend onpeople 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 runtstruggling to persevere. While the staff could step in and medically treat the weak ones, theylet nature take its course. Again, the park is not a zoo. The monkeys are basically left in theirwild, 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 SnowMonkeys make visiting Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park worthwhile in the spring, summer andfall. Oh, and make sure to charge your camera batteries before going because they are cute!