Primate Rescue Center

Monkey sighted on Florida’s Alligator Point

Erika Fleury December 10, 2015

It’s no monkey business. There are reports of a primate loose on Florida's Alligator Point and there’s a photo to prove it.

Photo courtesy Stephanie Parker / Tallahassee Democrat

Stephanie Parker has lived on the narrow strip of sand jutting into Apalachee Bay for 24 years. When she got a call from a neighbor this week about the monkey sitting on his porch, she and her husband Paul had to see for themselves. “He didn’t want us to think there was something wrong with him, but said ‘there was a monkey on the railing,’” Parker said.

She jumped in the car and was able to snap a photo of the monkey before it disappeared into the dense underbrush near the West end’s Nature Conservancy’s Phipps Preserve.

Monkey sightings have been noted by Bald Point State Park officials, and earlier this year, there was a report of one sitting in a citrus tree in Lanark, miles away, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Rob Klepper.

Klepper said it has been identified as a rhesus macaque monkey, native to Asia, but not to Florida. FWC officials are canvassing residents in Franklin and Wakulla counties to encourage them to report sightings and are also working to track its movements.

Where the monkey, or monkeys, came from is a question that has yet to be answered.

In Florida, a permit is required to own a macaque and holders are required to own at least 2.5 acres of land and have 1,000 hours of experience handling them. Klepper said no one in the region is permitted to have a macaque and statewide none are reported missing at this time, but he suggested several possibilities about how it arrived in Franklin County. It may have wandered north from a known population of monkeys numbering in the hundreds, which have existed along the Silver River in Central Florida since the mid-1900s. The monkey could have also escaped or been released by a person illegally harboring it, Klepper said in an email.

Klepper advised that if the monkey is sighted, people not feed it, stay away from it and call FWC officials. Monkeys can carry the disease herpes B, however no incidents of the disease being transmitted to humans has ever been reported in Florida.

For Parker, who has seen and photographed her share of wild animals along the Alligator Point coast, seeing a monkey along the coast was unexpected. “When it was first reported, you expect someone has confused it with something else like a baby bear or a bobcat,” Parker said. “The picture shows it’s definitely a monkey. No doubt about it.”

Parker said Florida Wild Mammal Association officials have been alerted and are trying to trap the primate and determine if there is a population present in the area.

- Tallahassee Democrat

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