Female monkey moves up social ladder

A female monkey named Mirusa eats food on a stump normally reserved for strong male monkeys.

A female monkey is attracting attention at Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden in Oita, where visitors can closely observe wild Nihonzaru, or Japanese macaques.

The female monkey is moving up through the ranks of her group, in which it is natural for male monkeys to hold power.

The female monkey is a 15-year-old named Mirusa. She is in her late 40s in terms of human age.

Monkeys are ranked in the group according to power, with a boss monkey as the leader. Weak monkeys try to gain favour with stronger ones by grooming them.

Mirusa became the favourite of her boss and a male monkey ranked second by grooming them, and gained power.

Today she sits and eats food on a stump reserved only for upper-ranked male monkeys in a group of about 700 monkeys, or makes male monkeys groom her.