Going Ape in Texas

Cryptozoology lovers may find this tale unbelievable, but it’s a good lesson in what can happen in nature and why we can’t assume too many things about animals. Or cryptids.

The story goes that a veteran bowhunter living in South Texas set out one evening in pursuit of a large whitetail buck that had so far eluded him. He hiked through the thorn-filled plains and made it to his deer stand. As the daylight was fading, he quickly climbed into the stand and got settled. (Photo above right by Jasper Doest.)

He observed the area around him, which despite being a harsh environment, managed to serve as a wildlife haven.  All sorts of animals live throughout the area. But that night, he was only interested in one large buck.

All of a sudden, he heard a “high-pitched bellowing scream”. It ricocheted around the plains, sending his fight or flight response into high gear. The screams continued and were getting closer, so he readied an arrow in case he needed to defend himself.

The next thing he knew a large monkey sauntered out from the underbrush and continued on its way, wherever it was going. He described it as having a pink face and gray body, a distinctive creature if there ever was one!

Nat Geo Investigates

Thanks to the involvement of National Geographic, we know what these creatures are. They are Japanese macaques – the kind that live in the mountains of Japan, thriving in snow covered hills, and warming themselves in the hot springs that naturally occur there.

So, what are they doing in South Texas?

Strange Journey

The macaques’ journey started in Kyoto, Japan in 1972. They were suffering from overpopulation so the Japanese rounded up 100 of them and tried to find a place to take them, such as a reserve.

Time went on and no one was taking the monkeys. One day a rancher from South Texas called and said he’d take them. That was in 1972. They moved the monkeys to his ranch near Dilly, Texas and the animals settled in.

Starting in 1980 primatologist Lou Griffin began studying the troop and in her 30 plus years of being with them has shown that these animals are growing bigger, living longer, and producing more young than their Japanese cousins.

It wasn’t always easy though. At the start, the troop lost members to unfamiliar predators such as bobcats, hawks, owls, and rattlesnakes. They have since learned to avoid these creatures and to thrive despite the setbacks. They have even learned to enjoy the beans of the mesquite trees that grow wild in the area, and to love watermelon that grow on nearby farms.

There have been problems in recent years with the troop visiting neighboring homesteads and causing problems, so Griffin managed to buy a new piece of land and surround it with electrical fencing in the hope of keeping most of the monkeys in the reserve and away from harm.

It’s a fascinating story and came as a shock to me – snow monkeys living in the heat and desolation of South Texas? Not only living there but thriving!

Cryptid Musings

My thoughts turned to commentaries I’ve heard over the years about places that Bigfoots can or can’t live based on all sorts of reasons. People have more rules and regulations about what Bigfoots can and will do, or won’t do, than I can possibly believe.

Western science still hasn’t done anything about proving and acknowledging the existence of this huge ape, so how can they say with any certainty what it can and can’t do? (Artwork above by unknown artist.)

They can’t.

That’s why I love to read the accounts by scientists of how often known animals surprise us. It happens regularly too, this isn’t just a one-off occurrence.

And I’m sure it happens with cryptids too.

What do you think about all this?


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