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Zoo In Japan Reconsiders 'Charlotte' For Name Of Newborn Monkey

A baby monkey named Charlotte clings to her mother at the zoo in Oita in southern Japan in this photo released Wednesday by the Mount Takasaki Wild Monkey Park.

As we reported on Monday, the newborn daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.

But halfway around the world, another auspicious baby naming was underway at Japan's Mount Takasaki Wild Monkey Park. As is tradition at the zoo, the first macaque born each year is named by the public.

Following the announcement from Kensington Palace, "Charlotte" suddenly shot to the top of the online balloting in Japan.

The circumstances of the poll suggest a bit of monkey business.

"There was no vote for Charlotte before the Monday night [royal] announcement," a zoo official is quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

"Since we announced the name we've been receiving calls and emails from people mostly complaining that it is rude to British people" to give a monkey the same name as a member of their royal family, the zoo official told AFP.

Kyodo News said complaints had been received asking whether Japanese sensibilities would be offended if a British zoo had named an animal after a member of the Japanese royal family.

As a result, the zoo on the island of Kyushu is considering renaming the baby macaque.

The Guardian suggests the possibility that the monkey-naming vote may have been as much homage as a joke.

According to the newspaper:

"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 [reveled] in the chance to show pictures of him dressed as a samurai lord."

It's also worth noting that Charlotte is one of the most popular girl's names right now, ranking No. 13 on Babycenter.com's list of the 100 most popular girl's names for 2014, (just ahead of Aubrey and behind Chloe)

As that arbiter of social etiquette from the 1990s, the sitcom Seinfeld, taught us, baby names can be a sensitive issue. Maybe the monkey could be called "Seven."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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