A family from the town of Estero visiting Silver Springs State Park suffered a shock this past week when their happy outing turned menacing due to territorial Rhesus macaque monkeys. The report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said that the encounter began harmlessly enough, with the family spotting several monkeys clowning around an observation deck located within the park. As the family filmed the monkeys, more and more began to arrive. Then the monkeys began to approach the park guests, who reported that they animals were making angry sounds as they drew nearer and nearer.
The mother of the family, Susie Ramsey, told the police and the News 6 agency that the monkeys charged her and her two children. At one point, she said, the monkeys were only a few feet away and seemed to be attempting to hem the family into a small circle. Most disturbing, Ramsey told News 6 that neither she nor her children noticed any signs in the area to warn them about the potentially dangerous monkeys.
Countering this statement, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said in no uncertain terms that signs are posted throughout the entire park, and that signs along the Ross Island Boardwalk as well as the Sea Hunt Deck specifically exist to warn guests about the Rhesus monkeys. At this time, both of those locations are closed due to the high level of monkey activity. Park employees are working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to solve the issue in a timely and safe fashion.
As opposed to so much out our state’s wildlife, Rhesus monkeys are not native to Florida. According to the FDEP, they first became introduced in 1930, when they were transported to an island near the park as an exotic attraction. The monkeys, not satisfied with their allotted land, swam off the island and made a home for themselves on the shore. Over the following near-century, the population expanded. Now it is believed that over 200 monkeys live within Silver Springs State Park, and recently monkey spotting place them as far away as Landy Lake and The Villages.
Visitors to the park are reminded to stay alert at all times and call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Wildlife Alert Hotline if they see a Rhesus monkey. Following the same protocol that people should with all wild animals, anyone who sees a Rhesus monkey should under no circumstances approach the animal or attempt to feed it as they are known to become territorial and aggressive for no apparent reason.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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