Snow monkeys, like many species that live in groups, adhere to a system of social hierarchy. Rank among the troop is first established at birth. A newborn male will share his mother’s status until he grows old enough to leave the troop to venture off on his own, or, he will remain and ensure the troop’s protection. A young female will also share her mother’s status at birth. However, both genders have the opportunity to move up or down within the social structure. What other factors determine status, and how does it affect overall group survival?
In this video from NATURE on PBS, a group of snow monkeys enjoys the hot springs of Hell Valley in Japan. The only member of the troop who doesn’t take a dip in the hot spring is Kuro-San, the troop leader. Help students examine why this may be in relation to the group hierarchy and Kuro-San’s place in the social system.