No Boys Allowed?

Griffin and nine other female ‘snow monkeys’ share a habitat — and a hot tub
Griffin was born at the Detroit Zoo to 22-year-old Crissy. // Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Zoo, Judith G. Yaker

Griffin, a 12-year-old female Japanese macaque (aka snow monkey), can often be seen relaxing and grooming with her mom, Crissy, and sisters, Carmen and Laura. They and the zoo’s other macaques like to bask in the warm steam from their hot tub and entertain guests with their playful antics.

The zoo’s Japanese macaque habitat is home to 10 females — their social structure is built around a matriarchal lineage. In the wild, young males tend to move out as they mature.

At the top of this society is Ms. Baldy (named for the bald spot on her forehead) followed by her daughter, Marilynn, and granddaughter, Julianne. During feeding time, these three eat first. They are also the most-often groomed by the other residents.

The middle rank comprises Crissy, Carmen, Griffin, and Laura. The bottom rank includes Janet, her daughter Lynda, and Madeline — the only macaque without kin inside the habitat.

These three eat last — which accounts for their smaller size — and spend the most time grooming higherranking members.

Macaques (Macaca fuscata fuscata) live in Japan’s broadleaf, deciduous, and evergreen forests. They are omnivorous, eating leaves, fruit, berries, seeds, small animals, insects, and fungi. Their dense fur varies in color from brown to gray, and they have exposed red skin on the face and posterior.

Now that winter’s on its way, keep in mind that like humans, macaques have been known to make a few snowballs for fun.