Story at a glance

  • For the first time, according to researchers, a female has become the alpha of a troop of monkeys at the Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden on the Japanese island of Kyushu.
  • Yakei took the top spot from 31-year-old alpha Sanchu, who previously led the troop for five years.
  • The female macaque has been demonstrating her power by climbing trees and shaking them, which researchers told The Guardian is very rare in females.

A female monkey has earned alpha status over a troop of more than 670 macaque monkeys at a nature reserve on the Japanese island of Kyushu for the first time in the reserve’s 70-year history, according to a report from The Guardian

The outlet reported that 9-year-old Yakei became the alpha female after defeating her mother in a fight at the Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden in Oita city in April. 

While that would have traditionally been the top spot for a female macaque, Yakei decided to take it a step further and take aim at the males in the troop, including 31-year-old alpha Sanchu, who previously led the troop for five years. 

After Yakei got the best of Sanchu in June, astonished officials at the reserve sought to confirm Yakei’s status by conducting a peanut test. 


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Peanuts were put out for the animals to take, and Yakei was the first to chow down on the treats, confirming she in fact held the top spot in the troop over both males and females. 

Yakei has been demonstrating her power by climbing trees and shaking them, as well as walking with her tail raised, all of which researchers told The Guardian is very rare in females. 

The nature reserve was established for monkeys in the early 1950s and is home to roughly 1,500 macaques, which are split into two troops. 


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Published on Aug 03, 2021