Oita zoo pays homage to new alpha male macaque


A “change of power” ceremony took place in early March for a troop of some 540 wild monkeys fed by humans at a mountain in Oita, with a local official issuing a certificate to formally recognize the new alpha male.

The Takasakiyama (Mount Takasaki) Natural Zoological Garden conducted the ceremony March 3 after a one-month observation period to make sure that Makoto, a male macaque estimated to be 14 years old, had indeed become the troop’s boss, taking over the post from Tiger, believed to be 26 years old.

Zoo officials said they were convinced Makoto had become the 16th alpha male after seeing him eat before Tiger beginning Jan. 20. “Makoto is only in his mid-40s in human age, quite young to be an alpha male,” an official said.

In addition, Makoto appeared and joined the troop, known as Group B at the zoo, only five years ago. Becoming the highest ranked monkey in such a short time is quite unusual the monkey world, they said.

During the ceremony, which was observed by zoo visitors, Makoto was given an alpha male certificate issued by Oita Mayor Ban Kugimiya and bananas, a special treat for the macaques.