According to a recent article published in Cosmopolitan, macaques (or snow monkeys) in Japan have been frequenting the hot springs of Jigokudani Monkey Park for many years. This behavior – primarily demonstrated by female snow monkeys – is not only because the animals are seeking warmth, but also because “taking a spa (day) reduced stress hormone,” the article states. The story by Tess Koman was published on April 5, 2018, and cites a study published in Science Daily.
“Female snow monkeys found major mental health benefits to hanging out by the water,” according to the article. The initial study was led by Kyoto University’s Rafaela Takeshita and was published in Primates, the official journal of the Japan Monkey Centre. Takeshita said that stress reduction was an effect of the monkeys’ regular visits to the springs.
“This indicates that, as in humans, the hot spring has a stress-reducing effect in snow monkeys,” Takeshita said. “This unique habit of hot spring bathing by snow monkeys illustrates how behavioural flexibility can help counter cold-climate stress, with likely implications for reproduction and survival.”
Snow monkeys are native to Japan and live the furthest north of any non-human primate in the world. Their winter visits to Jigokudani Monkey Park draw numerous onlookers, which do nothing to stifle the monkeys’ relaxation. Perhaps someday Watercourse Way will build a “Twelve Monkeys” room in their honor, but for now they will have to make do with the hot springs of their native Japan.