PRIMATE PROLIFERATION. An alpha male called King Phillip, or
Snaggle Tooth — because of his right fang hanging over his lower
lip — displays a "threat call" along the shoreline of the Silver
River in Florida’s Silver Springs State Park, in this photo
taken on September 17, 2013. The population of monkeys native to
Asia appears to be spreading in central Florida, according to
researchers. (AP Photo/The Ocala Star-Banner, Lisa Crigar)
From The Asian Reporter, V26, #1 (January 4, 2016), page 7.
Biologists say monkey population spreading in Florida
THE VILLAGES, Fla. (AP) — A population of monkeys native to Asia
appears to be spreading in central Florida, according to researchers.
For more than 75 years, rhesus macaques have inhabited Silver Springs
State Park in Ocala.
That population has grown to roughly 200 monkeys in the park, and new
sightings of the monkeys have been reported in Lake County, according to
University of Florida biologists.
Monkeys have been spotted in Lady Lake and The Villages, more than 20
miles south of the park.
"It would not be surprising as the population grows to see males
disperse outside of the park," Steve Johnson, one of the biologists,
tells The Orlando Sentinel.
In November, a tan-colored monkey was spotted on the roof of The
Villages Elementary of Lady Lake as the school was being dismissed. The
monkey paced back and forth on the roof as parents snapped photos from
the pickup line. As the crowd grew, the monkey jumped down, scurried
across the parking lot, and disappeared into nearby woods.
Weeks later, a homeowner reported seeing a monkey in a tree in her
backyard in The Villages. It sat upright in the tree, eating berries.
"It sounds like people are getting reasonably close to them, and
that’s not normal, either, to be able to get close to a wild monkey,"
said biologist Bob Gottschalk, who lives in The Villages.
In 2011, a monkey was photographed in Orange County on the Wekiva
River near Rock Springs Run, state records show.
The monkeys were brought to the Ocala park by a tour boat operator in
the 1930s. The monkeys, bought from a New York wildlife dealer,
initially were brought to an island on the Silver River, but they
promptly swam across the water and thrived in nearby woods, a state
historical timeline shows.
By 1963, the population had grown to 78 rhesus macaques, documents
A trapper working under state permits reported capturing 772 monkeys
from the park between 1998 and 2012. The monkeys were sold to a
biomedical research facility, but after a public outcry the practice
The monkeys can be dangerous to humans, as many carry the potentially
deadly herpes-B virus that can be transmitted through bites, scratches,
or contact with bodily fluids, Gottschalk said.
Experts caution against feeding the monkeys, which one Lady Lake
animal-control officer called "hostile by nature."
"They’re living about as natural as they are anywhere else in the
world," Gottschalk said.
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