Japan zoo apologises for naming monkey after newborn British princess Charlotte

The Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden, known for its wild macaque monkeys, has apologised for naming a baby monkey Charlotte in an ill-advised tribute to the newborn British princess. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM TAKASAKIYAMA.JP
The Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden, known for its wild macaque monkeys, has apologised for naming a baby monkey Charlotte in an ill-advised tribute to the newborn British princess. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM TAKASAKIYAMA.JP

A zoo in south-western Japan landed itself in hot water when it named a baby monkey Charlotte, in an ill-advised tribute to the newborn British princess.

The Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden, known for its wild macaque monkeys, has since apologised on its website after backlash from the public.

The Japan Times reported that the attraction has a habit of seeking public input in naming the first macaque born each year. Charlotte was apparently the top choice with 59 out of 853 votes, with Kei (after Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori) and Elsa (a prominent character in the hit animated Disney film Frozen) also considered.

The name was inspired by Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, the second child of Britain's royal couple Prince William and his wife Kate. She was born on May 2.

But the move backfired when the zoo received a flood of calls and emails demanding that it retract the name.

With input from AFP, the zoo in south-western Oita, on the island of Kyushu, is discussing what to do, the official said, adding they were considering the option of renaming the baby monkey.

Kyodo News also reported that complainants had asked how people in Japan would react if a British zoo were to name an animal after a member of Japan's revered imperial family.

Britain's royals are immensely popular in Japan, where their easy familiarity with the public stands in marked contrast to the austere image of the country's own imperial clan.

A recent visit by Prince William - who left heavily pregnant Kate at home - was followed in minute detail by Japan's media, which revelled in the chance to show pictures of him dressed as a samurai lord.

mklee@sph.com.sg