Officials at Japan`s most popular zoo say a territorial dispute might have led a capybara, a large South American rodent, to kill a spider monkey.
The fatal attack occurred in the spider monkey-capybara exhibit at the Asahiyama Zoo on the island of Hokkaido.
'There are no problems with them living together,' a zoo official told Mainichi Shimbun. 'The accident occurred at a stage in which they were coming to understand each other.'
The capybara, native to the Amazon basin, is the world`s largest rodent, weighing up to 145 pounds, and looks like a cross between a beaver and a pig. Spider monkeys also inhabit South American tropical forests.
While capybaras spend their time on the ground, spider monkeys are at home in the branches.
The unfortunate spider monkey was in a pool used by the capybara. Officials say the two animals appear to have startled each other, and the capybara seized the monkey by the neck, inflicting a fatal wound.
There are no plans to break up the two species, since zoo officials believe the attack was a one-time occurrence.