This monkey rides a deer

The photo of a macaque on a sika deer is a part of the Wildlife Photography of the Year exhibit for 2023
"Going my way?" "Sure! Hop on!" (Atsuyuki Ohshima/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Japanese macaques are very fun monkeys. They love to groom each other and to hang out in hot springs ...

And ride deer?

Yes, that too!

Although it can be a bit of a challenge getting proof of it.

That is where Japanese photographer Atsuyuki Ohshima comes in. While on Japan's Yakushima Island, he snapped a rare image of a macaque riding—or rather laying down—on the back of a sika deer. This is a species of deer native to Japan.

Working together

It's an adorable and funny, image. But it does raise a question: Why would the deer let a monkey sit on its back?

Experts say that the macaques and deer have a bit of symbiotic relationship. The monkeys feed on fruit, but rather sloppily. The deer then clean up the mess, enjoying the monkey leftovers. The monkeys also groom the deer, pulling bugs off of their coats. So that's how that monkey got up there! (Also he seems to be asleep on the job in this photo...)

If you love interesting photos like this, we have good news for you. This image is one of nearly 50,000 entries from the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest. The monkey/deer image is one of group of honoured photos. The winners, which we love to cover every year, will be announced on October 10. See you then!

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