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The Milwaukee County Zoo Announces
the Birth of a Japanese Macaque

Japanese macaques

Posted June 2020

The Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a Japanese macaque. The female, named Nikko, a Japanese word meaning “sunshine,” was born May 16 to 7-year-old mom, Rikka, and 5-year-old dad, Kota. Visitors can see the baby in the Macaque Island habitat. Japanese macaques are also known as snow monkeys, a terrestrial Old World monkey species native to Japan.

Japanese macaques

Nikko is the first offspring for the pair and father Kota’s second surviving offspring. Kota’s first offspring, a male named Daisuki (Suki), was born at MCZ in May 2019, to mom Negai.

Zookeepers report Nikko is very curious and likes to look around the habitat and at the other members.  Mom is very protective of Nikko and keeps the baby on her body most of the time.  Rikka regularly grooms the baby and doesn’t seem to like zookeepers looking at the baby for too long a time.  Mom runs away if she feels keepers are staring too long! Keepers have noticed that Rikka does put Nikko on the ground on her stomach or her back for brief moments during the day, but the baby is not mobile yet. Nikko should be able to move around on her own soon, but she’ll stay within an arm’s reach of Rikka for the next few months.

The baby is still nursing from mom and won’t be eating solid foods for some time.  Solid foods will include fruits, vegetables, greens and a commercial brand pellet called primate chow.  Most likely, she’ll choose to eat the softer of these foods first.

Japanese macaques
1-year-old youngster, Daisuki, with mom, Negai.

For the most part, other macaque group members have been very respectful of the new resident. At times, the youngsters will get curious and come for a closer look at Nikko, and keepers often see Rikka and Nikko sitting close to Negai and her 1-year-old son, Suki. Rikka is far too protective of the baby for her to interact with Suki.

The macaques spend most of their time outdoors in the summer, so visitors should have many opportunities to see the growing baby macaque. If they are not seen in their outdoor habitat, the macaques could be eating or taking a quick rest indoors.

No other non-human primate is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate than the Japanese macaque.  Populations of macaques are stable in the wild, and an estimated 100,000 macaques currently live throughout Japan.