There is a recovery in the monkey business in and around a state park in Florida, where groups of non-native Rhesus monkeys live along a popular river between kayaks and tourists.
Officials closed two walks in Silver Springs State Park due to adverse interactions with park guests. An observation platform and a walk are prohibited because the primates were mainly supported.
Matt Mitchell, deputy director of Florida State Parks, said guards check the areas every morning for monkey activity.
“The park staff can if the monkeys find temporary closure of use areas during these inspections,” he wrote in an email. “The park staff also responds to information apes in areas of public use by the guests.”
Researchers estimate 150 to 200 wild rhesus macaques live in the park and an unknown number living outside.
A video taken by a family that apparently shows aggressive monkeys on one of the park’s walks recently made the rounds on social networks.
Rangers are trying to warn visitors not to feed mammals 20 pounds and 2 feet high and patrols intensified in sections where human-ape interactions are high.
The monkeys were brought to the area in the 1930s by a touring boat operator named Colonel Tooey. He thought it would be a good idea to launch six monkeys on a small island in the Rio de la Plata and the so-called Monkey Island to attract tourists.
“He thought they would stay on Monkey Island,” said Eben Kirksey of Florida and Professor of Humanities at UNSW Sydney, Australia. “But they are good swimmers.”
Many generations of monies have occurred, aided by the relative lack of natural predators (other than alligators, which often eat young primates on the shores). The monkeys thrived in warm weather and the park was selling at the time “Monkey Chow” so visitors can feed the primates.
At the same time, in the 1980s, there were 400 animals in the park, leading the state authorities to try to wrest control of the situation. Some women were sterilized. Earlier group disposition attempts have sparked strong opposition from residents – especially when some captured primates were sold in research labs.
“At least from a cultural point of view, people living in Ocala greatly appreciate their presence in the community,” Kirksey said.
But again, state officials are considering options for controlling primates – after all, viral video overalls are not the best advertising for the park. Mitchell said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has been briefed and controlled by apes.
There have been 18 confirmed reports of animal bites and scratches since his arrival in the park. Experts say that monkeys can carry and transmit herpes virus viruses, but there is no evidence that anyone was sick of the Silver Springs monkeys.
“By the way, you do not want to get close to them. You do not want to oppose them,” said Steve Johnson, associate professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Florida looking for monkeys.
Johnson said there are four or five groups of monkeys in the park, and others are outside the park.
Recently, a homeowner 4 miles (6 kilometers) captured the images of about 50 monkeys invaded his lumberjack. Automatic camera Brian Pritchard, anchored in a tree, has even been inspected by a monkey, whose face fills substantially one frame, while others are folded in the background.
“Anyone who lives in our river, we always have the opportunity to see the monkeys,” said Pritchard, a taxidermist for 33 years. “As long as it does not bother you, that does not bother you.”