January 21, 2007

Nagano snow monkeys beat the cold with dips in hot spring

Even monkeys know how to enjoy the "onsen" (hotspring).

YAMANOUCHI, Nagano -- Japanese snow monkeys are beating the cold at a hot spring here by taking dips in the steaming water.

It's rare for wild monkeys to soak in hot springs, but the snow monkeys at the Jigokudani Yaenkoen facility in Yamanouchi seem to enjoy relaxing in the water.

"It's a chance to get to see snow monkeys up close in a distinctly winter scene," said 43-year-old worker Toshio Hagiwara.

About 200 wild monkeys now live around the Jigokudani area, and the hot spring facility looks after them and feeds them.

Since there has been less snow this year and a greater number of warmer days compared with previous years, there have reportedly been fewer monkeys entering the water.

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