Japan zoo executes 57 snow monkeys with invasive ‘alien genes’
snow monkey of japan pic.twitter.com/2TwCIBAge2
— Nature Photography (@NaturePH0T0S) February 21, 2017
A total of 57 snow monkeys were put to death through lethal injection in a zoo in northern Japan after they were found to be carrying genes of an “invasive alien species.”
DNA testing done by the Takagoyama Nature Zoo in Chiba showed that the primates were crossbred with the rhesus macaque, a banned monkey species in Japan.
The species in question, which is common in parts of India and China, is seen as a threat to Japan’s natural environment.
“They get mixed in with indigenous animals and threaten the natural environment and ecosystem,” Junkichi Mima, a spokesman for WWF Japan, told the BBC.
The culled monkeys were believed to have escaped from their enclosure and bred with the wild monkeys outside the facility. They “had to be killed to protect the indigenous environment,” zoo officials said.
Shortly after being euthanized, a memorial service was held for the snow monkeys’ “souls” at a nearby Buddhist temple.
As anticipated, wildlife conservationists voiced out their disdain for the supposedly unjustified killings.
“This seems a bit of a harsh response,” said one user on Facebook, while another one wrote, “Why? Send them out of Japan if need be, but killing them?”
Zoo operators, however, claimed that the move was “unavoidable.”
Japanese macaques, more popularly known as snow monkeys, are native to Japan and are one of the country’s major tourist attractions.
Their penchant for mating with other species has been a cause for concern in the country, which prohibits the transport of invasive species including crossbreeds. Khristian Ibarrola / ra/rga