According to multiple news sources, including the BBC and Japan Times, it is reported that a Japanese zoo euthanized 57 snow monkeys because of impure bloodlines.
If it sounds like something straight out of Nazi Germany, it kind of is.
Here’s what these media outlets are saying: Takagoyama Nature Zoo in Futtsu-shi (Futtsu City) Chiba-ken (Chiba Prefecture) euthanized 57 snow monkeys at its facility (by lethal injection), after discovering that the monkey’s carried genes from an “invasive alien species.”
Apparently these 57 monkeys had been crossbred the with the non-indigenous (aka non-Japanese) monkey breed the Rhesus macaque and the native Japanese macaque (which is known by the Japanese name of Nihonzaru).
The culling took place at the zoo over a one-month period ending in early February 2017.
The Rhesus macaque is banned under Japanese law, and since its laws do not allow for the possession or transportation of any invasive species—including anything crossbred—the zoo figured it was better to kill the monkeys rather than give them to a zoo in another country.
Do Japanese zoos only have Japanese animals?
If not… like it might have a penguin, for example… is that not a so-called ‘invasive species’… why is that okay to possess and have transported into the country?
In a chat with AFP, conservation group WWF Japan spokesperson Mima Junkichi (surname first) pretty much said the culling was okay “because they get mixed in with indigenous animals and threaten the natural environment and ecosystem.”
Japan Environment Ministry’s Office for Alien Species Management also indicated to local media that the killing of 57 monkeys was unavoidable because there were fears they might escape and reproduce in the wild.
Of course, the Environment Ministry also says that an exception could have been made, had the zoo applied for permission to keep the crossbred monkeys…
Ever wonder how those monkeys crossbred? No, I’m sure some of you know he whole birds-and-the-bee thing… but rather… how did the alien species - Rhesus macaque get into a zoo where the Japanese Nihonzaru snow monkeys frolic?
The Takagoyama Nature Zoo is an open-concept zoo - not caged… so it was very possible that the Rhesus macaque—that has a habitat in China and Southeast Asia, could come across (no pun intended… maybe just a little) the Japanese species within the area.
Did you know that a Japanese Buddhist temple held a memorial service for the 57 dead monkeys? Do half-breed monkeys even have a soul? And if they do, were these monkeys followers of Buddhist philosophy?
Yes… an official at the zoo reportedly did have the Buddhist temple perform a memorial service for the 57 Ronin… er, 57 monkeys. I suppose it’s a nice thought.
The Takagoyama Nature Zoo STILL has 164 snow monkeys it believes are pure Japanese macaque.
“This is a Japanese monkey!”
The above statement will hopefully amuse anyone who has been in Japan, and has seen how proud the Japanese are to explain that such-and-such is of Japanese origin.
It will continue its due diligence to ensure the Japanese snow monkey breed will remain pure.
So… for all you gaijin/foreigners in Japan… think twice before you ask that Japanese guy or gal out on a date.
PS: I questioned the veracity of this story because Japan killing these monkeys just seemed so unnecessary… but apparently it’s true.
PPS: Image at very top found on Wikipedia: by Snow Monkeys in a hot water spa in Nagano, Japan.PPPS: Here's a 1982 video from Peter Gabriel called Shock The Monkey. Gabriel was previously a mainstay in the group Genesis.