Environment: Monkey Business

"Those monkeys were like angels," recalls Tamotsu Ueda, former mayor of Oita, Japan. It was an April day in 1958, and Emperor Hirohito himself had come with his Empress to visit Mount Takasaki Natural Monkey Park. When the monarch set foot in the park, some 500 monkeys, as if on cue, spilled out of the woods to welcome him. One affable creature even jumped up on the Empress's shoulder.

The monkeys proved such a tourist attraction that in the next decade some 30 other Japanese cities opened similar parks. There have always been a certain number of macaque monkeys hiding in the...

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