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The Story Behind Japan’s Bathing Monkeys – ScienceTake

A troop of ‘snow monkeys’ or Japanese Macaques at the Jigokudani Yaen-koen snow monkey park has been relaxing in the country’s hot springs since the mid-1960s, a daily respite from the winter snow and an increasingly famous tourist attraction in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture. But do the macaques only enjoy the naturally heated pools to escape the cold? Or is there more to it? From The New York Times via ScienceTake

Rafaela S.C. Takeshita and her colleagues at Kyoto University collected and tested the monkeys’ feces for levels of glucocorticoids, which increase with stress. The cold is known to cause levels of these hormones to go up…

As expected, during the periods when the monkeys were bathing, stress levels were down. Another indication of the value of bathing to the macaques was that the higher-ranking females spent more time in the pools.

Dr. Takeshita said that the males are usually on the periphery of the troop at this time of year and did not spend much time bathing, so she only studied the females.

Watch these calming snow monkey videos next. Also: Videos about poop.

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