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A Japanese macaque bathing in a hot spring in winter. (Image credit: Mark Fox/Getty Images)

In southern Japan, a young female macaque has upended societal norms by seizing control of her 677-member troop through a violent primate coup. Now, her hard-won empire could come crumbling down around her due to one unstoppable force: mating season.

Meet Yakei, a 9-year-old female living in a Japanese macaque reserve called the Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden, where she has spent the last year reigning as the first female troop leader in the park’s 70-year history.

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