Monkey Mountain as a Megazoo: Analyzing the Naturalistic Claims of "Wild Monkey Parks" in Japan

In: Society & Animals
Author: John Knight
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Abstract

In Japan, yaen kōen or "wild monkey parks" are popular visitor attractions that show free-ranging monkey troops to the paying public. Unlike zoos, which display nonhuman animals through confinement, monkey parks control the movements of the monkeys through provisioning. The parks project an image of themselves as "natural zoos," claiming to practice a more authentic form of displaying animals-in-the-wild than that practiced by the zoo. This article critically evaluates the monkey park's claim by examining park management of the monkeys. The article shows the monkey park's claim to display wild monkeys to be questionable because of the way that provisioning changes monkey behavior. Against the background of human encroachment onto the forest habitat of the monkey, the long-term effect of provisioning is to sedentarize nomadic monkey animals and to turn the wild monkey park into a megazoo.

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