The Detroit Zoo announced the birth of a baby snow monkey this week.
After a gestation of 173 days, a Japanese macaque – also known as a snow monkey – was born in the early morning hours of April 23 to mom Carmen, 16, and dad Haru, 6, bringing the troop total to nine.
The baby’s arrival marks the first snow monkey birth at the Zoo in nearly 13 years.
“Mom and baby are doing well,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “Carmen is a first-time mom, but she’s attentive and doing everything she should. The baby is fully furred and alert and can sometimes be seen clearly when Carmen puts her down in the grass for brief periods.”
Snow monkeys typically weigh around 1.5 pounds at birth; adult males can weigh up to 30 pounds while females tip the scales at around 22 pounds.
Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata fuscata) have complex social dynamics, including a social hierarchy based on family. “Learning from Carmen and the other adults will be very important to this little one’s development,” Carter said. “Carmen is one of the highest-ranking females in the troop, so this baby will enjoy the privilege of her family’s status as she grows up.”
Snow monkeys have been subjects in one of the longest-running field research programs in primatology, and were the first nonhuman primate species for which culture was scientifically documented. Culture, or learned behaviors that are passed from generation to generation, was once considered to be an exclusively human trait.
Japanese macaques have a diverse range of habitats, allowing them to adapt to dramatic temperature changes similar to those found in Michigan. In the wild, they are drawn to naturally occurring hot springs; the snow monkeys’ Detroit Zoo habitat includes a hot tub to imitate the hot springs found in their native habitat.
The snow monkey diet includes leaves, fruit, berries, seeds, small animals, insects and fungi. The troop at the Detroit Zoo also receive treats such as raisins and cereal hidden throughout their habitat, which requires them to forage for their food as they would in nature.
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