Love Triangle Challenges Reign of Japan’s Monkey Queen

Annie Roth in The New York Times:

Smashing the patriarchy in the human world has been easier said than done. But last year, a 9-year-old female Japanese macaque in a reserve in southern Japan showed humans how it’s done by violently overthrowing the alpha male of her troop to become its first female leader in the reserve’s 70-year history. The macaque, named Yakei, presides over a troop of 677 monkeys in Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden, which was established as a reserve for monkeys in 1952. There are two troops on the island reserve, and they spend most of their time roaming the forested mountain at its center. They also make daily visits to a park at the base of the mountain, where the staff provides food. Since the reserve opened, its staff has kept tabs on the romantic and political struggles of its simian residents.

Yakei’s ascent to alpha status surprised both scientists and reserve workers, who are now closely observing Yakei’s reign to see how long she can maintain her supremacy. And with breeding season sending Yakei into the middle of something like a messy love triangle, some experts wonder if she may be vulnerable to a usurper.

More here.