Monkey on the lam: Elusive rhesus monkey looks "sad" in new photos

8:02 PM, Sep 8, 2010   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- An elusive rhesus macaque which has avoided capture for more than a year in Pinellas County has been spotted again. And this time there are pictures -- some might even say they are "saddening" -- to prove it.

It's not that the primate looks unhealthy after more than a year in the wild. On the contrary, the man who took the photos say the monkey looks well-nourished. But one particular image is, again, stirring debate over whether the animal should be captured or left alone.

Photo Gallery: Don McBride's pictures of the monkey

From behind his home in South St. Pete, Don McBride photographs all sorts of wildlife. Ducks, squirrels, birds. But on Monday, Don captured an image of the elusive monkey which he'd first seen about six weeks ago just outside his bedroom window.

"And when he saw me, he jumped and ran up that oak tree and back across through the other trees," says McBride pointing at a sprawling 200-year-old oak tree behind his home.

This time, his camera at the ready, Don captured images that have become the talk of the town. The monkey is seemingly peering at his own reflection in a mirrored box that sits in a neighbor's yard.

Some say the images are almost pitiful, as if the monkey, a social animal by nature, longs for companionship.

"I don't know anything about monkey psychology," says Don, "but it was just kind of interesting."

The photo further fuels the debate over whether the monkey should simply be left alone. Local wildlife expert Vernon Yates says the picture suggests otherwise.

"The picture says it all, you know? It's worth a thousand words right there, that he wants to find another one of his own kind," says Yates.

Since the last monkey spotting, neighbors have been doing what they can to lure him back, including placing a stuffed animal monkey next to the box, and a small bag containing some apple slices and grapes.

Jeff Wilcox owns the home where the monkey was spotted and has seen lots of animals in the backyard.

"Iguanas, alligators, you name it," says Wilcox, "But not a monkey. That's a highlight."

Don McBride says he's glad to have captured the images of the solitary simian, who's managed to avoid actual capture for more than a year. Now, with all of the attention, no one's certain if the roaming rhesus will return.

McBride says he's not taking sides in the debate, but after watching the monkey's behavior, he also believes the animal should be captured at this point and placed with other monkeys.

Eric Glasser, 10 News

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