We can't get enough of the adorable snow monkey born at the Detroit Zoo

Posted at 7:55 AM, Jul 17, 2020

Even though the Detroit Zoo was closed, life continued for the animals.

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) welcomed a healthy Japanese macaque, also known as a snow monkey June 3.

The baby macaque named Jun, which means “pure” in Japanese, was born to parents Carmen and Haru. She has a big sister, 1-year-old Hana, the first snow monkey birth at the Zoo in 13 years.

“Hana seems very interested in her new little sister,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society. “Mom Carmen has also been very attentive and protective of the new baby, which is great to see.”

Carter added, “Jun is adjusting well in the troop and starting to get a little braver as she sets out to explore the habitat with Carmen by her side.”

Carmen was born at the Detroit Zoo in 2002 and Haru arrived in 2016. The duo was paired as part of a breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, which maintains genetically healthy populations in accredited zoos and aquariums. Snow monkeys are threatened by habitat loss as the wild forests of Japan are converted for human use.

Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata fuscata) have complex social dynamics, including a social hierarchy based on family.

Jun's birth brings the snow monkey troop to 10.

“Carmen is one of the highest-ranking females in the troop,” said Carter. “Learning from Carmen and the other adults will be a very important part of this little one’s development.”

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.