Police in Florida are reminding everyone in the Sunshine State that wild monkeys are not native and that people should do their best to avoid them.
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The Orange City Police Department recently posted on Facebook after receiving multiple calls for a wild Rhesus Macaques monkey. The police department is working with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to handle the situation. They’re reminding people in the area to avoid feeding or trying to capture the animals themselves.
According to a brochure shared by the police department, Rhesus Macaques are native to Asia. A wildlife attraction brought the animals to an island in the Silver Springs area as an attraction in the 1930s. However, the monkeys quickly escaped. The species has lived along the Silver River in the central part of the state for almost a hundred years now, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are invasive.
Florida officials say the species causes ecological damage and are dangerous to people. There are multiple documented accounts of the monkeys biting people. The species can carry diseases like Herpes B virus, which is fatal to humans and is a cause for concern. Plus, in other parts of the state, FWC says the animals have destroyed red mangroves, a plant that helps reduce erosion.
Besides the Rhesus Macaques, another Florida wild monkey, the velvet monkey, originally came from Africa. That species can be found in southeast Florida. However, both monkeys occasionally wander off and appear in other parts of the state.
Police say anyone with concerns or monkey spottings should call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC.