Hot Springs Lower Stress in Japan’s Popular Bathing Monkeys
The snow monkeys of Japan are famous, as monkeys go. This troop of Japanese macaques lives in the north, near Nagano, the mountainous, snowy site of the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Others of their species live even farther north, farther than any other nonhuman primate, so they are able to adapt to winter weather.
But the source of this troop’s fame is an adaptation that only they exhibit: soaking in hot spring bathing pools. Their habitat is full of natural hot springs that . tend to be over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that is apparently uncomfortable for the monkeys.
It wasn’t until 1963 that a young female macaque was first observed bathing in a pool built by a hotel, with the water cooled to a temperature comfortable enough for humans and monkeys.
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At first, one or two monkeys joining human visitors were a curiosity , but eventually they bec..