World Japan Zoo Kills 57 Snow Monkeys for Carrying 'Invasive Alien Genes'

Rodiano Bonacci
Febbraio 22, 2017

A city in Chiba Prefecture has culled 57 monkeys at a zoo after finding they were cross-breeds of Japanese monkeys and rhesus macaques, which have been designated as an invasive alien species in the country and apparently pose a threat to the natural environment.

"They have to be killed to protect the indigenous environment", an official from Chiba Prefectural Government told local media, referring to the legally required culling of snow monkey rhesus macaque crossbreeds.

According to Wikipedia, the Japanese macaqueis a terrestrial Old World monkey species that is native to Japan. "We will update our facility and control plans so there won't be a bad impact on wild Japanese monkeys", one of the officials said.

"A Buddhist monk held a funeral service for the monkeys at the zoo on February 8".

However, a ministry official from the Office for Alien Species Management called the culling "unavoidable".

Environmentalists backed the decision noting it's crucial not to allow any contact between foreign and native species.

"Because they get mixed in with indigenous animals and threaten the natural environment and ecosystem" Junkichi Mima, a spokesman for conservation group WWF Japan told AFP news agency.

Japanese snow monkeys have always been a popular attraction living in sub-zero temperatures in many snow-covered mountainous regions of the country during the winter months.

The zoo reportedly began feeding wild snow monkeys in 1957, with an adjacent mountainous area subsequently designated a wild habitat for the simians. The rhesus macaque, in contrast, is native to a wide range of countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Afghanistan, Vietnam and China.

The Takagoyama Zoo was originally home to 164 snow monkeys, all of were at first believed to be purebred.

"Preventing exposures to foreign animals is very important", said Tomoko Shimura of the Nature Conservation Society of Japan.

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