HAKODATE - Japanese monkeys in a botanical garden in a hot spring resort in Hokkaido, northern Japan, relaxed on Sunday in an open-air spa as the garden started its annual event for them to survive the cold winter.

A total of 74 monkeys in Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden got in the hot spring, some stretching their arms and some grooming each other. "They are cute, acting like humans," said Makiko Murakoshi, who visited from Tokyo.

The monkeys are picky about the heat of the water and do not get in unless the temperature is around 40 C, according to the garden. Every year, the monkey keepers prepare the bath by adding cold water to the 63 C hot spring in the garden.

The hot spring event is open to visitors until May 6.

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