This is Amber, a Japanese snow macaque Friends of Animals’ staff members got to meet last week during a visit to Primarily Primates (PPI), the sanctuary we manage in San Antonio, Texas. Amber arrived at the sanctuary in January. A Texas vet took Amber from a client who wasn’t taking care of her and then reached out to Primarily Primates. Her red face and bottom, as well as her short tail, distinguish her from the other macaques at the sanctuary. In fact there is only one other snow macaque at Primarily Primates—2-year-old Louie, who arrived in February of 2015 after also being exploited as a pet. Japanese snow macaques are distinct for other reasons besides their physical traits.
The species, native to the islands of Japan, represents the northernmost wild populations of non-human primates in the world. They are sometimes called snow monkeys because they live in areas of Japan where snow covers the ground for months each year. In addition, the Japanese snow macaque has been studied in the wild longer than most primate species, having been observed in numerous habitats and locations throughout Japan for more than 50 years.
Researchers have documented the first case of cultural innovation in nonhuman primates with this species. A female they named Imo learned to wash sand off of provisioned sweet potatoes and then clean sand off of wheat by putting it in water. Snow macaques are also fantastic swimmers. When Amber first arrived, she was exhibiting some self-injurious behavior from the trauma of being kept as a pet, but now she is less anxious and adjusting well to her surroundings at PPI, which include a front row seat to the playful antics of Louie, whose habitat is close by. Eventually they will be introduced to each other and hopefully share a living space. You can sponsor Amber by visiting the Primarily Primates website and choosing her profile under the “monkey” section located here.