LIFE

These Adorable Snow Monkeys Soak Away The Winter Blues In All-Natural Hot Tubs

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

There’s nothing more relaxing than a nice, long, hot bath. You can melt away the tension of the day, clear your mind, and emerge feeling fresh.

But if you think this is only something humans enjoy, you’re wrong!

Like their fellow primates, Japanese macaques — also known as snow monkeys — also like a long soak in hot water. After all, since humans and animals can be quite similar, it makes sense. If monkeys like ice pops as much as people do, it stands to reason they like hot tubs, too!

And with good reason: These monkeys are the most northern-living primates, and make their homes in areas where snow blankets the ground most of the year, hence their name.

Snow monkeys are very social, and one of the things they enjoy? Spa time. In Nagano, Japan, the snow monkeys frequent the Jigokudani hot spring to hang out and relax.

This spring is located in the Jigokudani Monkey Park, which also features an artificial pond built for the monkeys’ enjoyment.

Photographer Ron Gessel recently took a trip to the park, and captured some up-close images of some very serene monkeys enjoying a soak.

Take a look, and you might find yourself planning out some bathtime this evening!

(H/T: Twisted Sifter, Japan Guide, Wikipedia)

Snow monkeys have tight-knit communities, where the members have known each other for their entire lives and have strong bonds with one another.

The hot water in the springs lets the monkeys warm up and relax. Their thick fur also makes them suited to a cold, snowy climate.

The snow monkeys live in groups with alpha males as their leaders. In Jigokundani Park, the alpha males are documented and even have their ow portraits dating back several decades.

The hot springs exist thanks to the areas volcanic activity, which heats the water from deep underground.

In fact, “Jigokudani” means “hell valley,” a reference to the volcanoes.

But it’s quite beautiful, and the monkeys certainly have no complaints! And humans have been known to enjoy the hot springs, too.

Today, the monkey pool at Jigokudani Monkey Park is a popular tourist attraction and is open all year. The monkeys take dips in the hot springs all year, too, so there are always some adorable swimming monkeys to check out.

Snow monkeys are also highly intelligent. They’ve been observed washing off food before eating it, and then dipping it in seawater for flavor!

They’re also the only monkeys that have been observed bathing in water together, although they also groom one another the way other monkeys do.

Here’s how they groom on land. Keeping all that fur neat and clean takes a lot of time, but they’re well-prepared for winter!

And besides enjoying a bath, they also like to roll snowballs for fun. How cute is that?

It’s pretty amazing when you consider how similar humans and snow monkeys really are. Hot baths and snowballs? Sounds like a great winter day!

Of course, like many other animals, snow monkeys face threats due to human activities, such as habitat loss. They’ve also become used to humans and have lost their fear of them, meaning they can get into dangerous situations, especially with cars.

So let’s appreciate these smart, fluffy monkeys who love a nice hot soak just as much as we do!

You can see more of Ron Gessel’s photography of humans and other animals on his website and on Facebook and Twitter.

Please SHARE this article to spread the love of fluffy monkeys, hot baths, and hanging out with family!