Visit Japan's Jigokudani Monkey Park during the winter months, and you will be in for a real treat. That's because this is the only place in the world where you will encounter monkeys, hanging out, in a 'Jacuzzi'.
The Japanese Macaques or snow monkeys, as they are often called, live in the dense forests and steep cliffs that surround the Jigokudani Valley, and are rarely seen during most of the year. However, during the winter months, when the temperatures dip below freezing, they scamper down to the area's natural hot springs and spend the day in the water - lounging, snoozing and even grooming each other!
When it gets too hot, the youngsters get out to cool themselves by frolicking in the snow, and then jump, right back into the comfort of the hot springs.
Over the years, the area has become a major tourist draw for both locals and foreigners, who brave the freezing weather to see this incredible sight.
The macaques don't seem to mind the attention, nor the clicking of cameras - Plus, they probably love the fact that they get fed twice a day by Park Rangers during these harsh winter months, when food is very difficult to find.
Snow monkeys, are the most northern-living, non-human primates . Native to the Jigokudani Valley, they are medium-sized monkeys, with human-like faces and extremely expressive eyes. Their thick, furry gray or brown coats grow even thicker, during the harsh winter months. They are omnivorous animals that feed primarily on fruits, seeds, insects and bird eggs.
The social animals move around in packs of 20 to 30, led by a strong male leader who decides where the group goes and defends it against enemies. They are almost like families and many females spend their entire lives, with the same group.
As is the case with most exotic animals, the snow monkeys are also on the list of endangered species, thanks to the loss of their natural habitat. With only about 35,000 left in the wild, the Japanese Government is trying everything it can, to protect these primates - We sure hope they succeed!
sources:wikipedia.org, dailytelegraph.co.uk, Japan-guide.com