Blank Park Zoo animal spotlight: Macaques

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Blank Park Zoo animal spotlight: Macaques


After being off exhibit for renovations, the macaques (snow monkeys) were reintroduced to their home last weekend! The exhibit received a much-needed update to its caging, and in the process we added a new interactive log for you to get into the exhibit and see the macaques up close. 

We have 16 macaques at Blank Park Zoo, six males and ten females – including a new baby girl

Check out a live webcam of
 our new baby macaque. 

Macaques are found on the islands of Japan, mainly in forested mountain areas. They enjoy Iowa winters and can be found outside at the Zoo year-round.  If it is below freezing they are allowed access to their holding building, but unless it is very cold, you’ll find them outside playing.


I caught up with Val Hautekeete, one of our animal keepers, and asked her some questions about the macaques:


What do they like to eat? 
They like to eat seeds, grains, fruits and veggies. Their daily diet here includes oranges, oatmeal, peas, a mixture of other fruits and veggies and nutritionally balanced biscuits.


How long do they typically live? 

They typically live to their older 20s. If you would compare it to human years, take their age and multiply it by three.

What kind of enrichment activities do the macaques enjoy? 

They have all sorts of food enrichment - they love yogurt and cereals. They love all sorts of toys - Little Tykes backyard toys (slide, kitchen, table, chairs) and puzzle toys. They are a fun group to work with, always investigating new things.


How endangered are they? 
They are listed as Threatened, which is upgraded from Endangered in 1996. They have been a protected species in Japan since 1947. The population is threatened and still declining due to deforestation and humans. Every year, over 10,000 are killed by farmers claiming to be protecting crops and livestock.


What can we do to help them through conservation efforts? 
The easiest way for the public to help is through the Zoo’s adopt an animal program. The Zoo supports international conservation efforts.


Do all of the macaques at the Zoo have names? 
In order to track their history (like health, behavior, locations, ancestors and descendants) they all have numbers – like we have social security numbers. They do also have names given by the staff that works with them.


Can you tell them apart? 

Yes. They all have very distinct personalities once you get to know them. They also have facial tattoos to help with recognition - have you ever noticed a black dot or two on their faces?


Any other interesting facts about macaques?

The Japanese macaques live in a matriarchal society - which means the Alpha female is in charge (keeps the peace) and the alpha male is the protector (tells the troop when to move and fends off predators). The youngest daughter always has the highest rank. The Alpha lineage and the beta lineage are blood lines. The youngest daughter of the alpha female takes over when the alpha female passes away - this is true in the wild and captivity. Japanese Macaques have been observed since the 1920s. Our Alpha and Beta lines can be traced back to Japan – it’s amazing how they know their own blood line!


05/10/2012 1:43 PM |Add a comment
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