THE SNOW MONKEY AT HOME by Margaret Rau

THE SNOW MONKEY AT HOME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As she did in her Giant Panda. . . (1977) and Gray Kangaroo at Home (1978), Rau skillfully integrates information on the Macaca fuscata of the Japanese Alps with her reconstructed life of one male snow monkey. Though many fictionalized animal lives leave an impression of sameness between one species and the next, this sustains interest by highlighting specific behavior peculiar to the snow monkey. Shortly after this baby's birth he's caught in a tug-of-war between his mother and his grandmother. (If the grandmother had won, he'd have died soon for want of milk though she would cradle him lovingly till the end.) Later we witness a more benign adoption when a female infant injured by an eagle is taken over and nursed by an adult male. (When she dies of pneumonia later, he leaves the troop to become a solitary.) Rau follows her featured monkey through his gradual growth toward independence and responsibility, his founding and leadership of a splinter troop (common in his northern territory where large groups are less able to survive the winters), and his unaccountable (but frequently observed) abandonment of the social group for a life of solitary wandering. Rau also observes the demise of the mother troop's old leader, and along the way she notes new habits (the washing of sprayed apples) and phenomena (deformed babies) which might be consequences of the invasion of the area by the monkeys' biggest enemy, man. Exemplary.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Knopf