Mr. Monk hanging out and enjoying his Oreo cookie
St. Petersburg, Florida - Tampa Bay's mystery monkey seems to have found a home behind the house of a St. Petersburg couple. The homeowners, who do not want to be identified, feed the monkey daily and say he follows them around their house peeking in the windows from the outside.
In an email to 10 News the family says they have named the monkey Mr. Monk.
"It has been a constant progression of trust. At first he was very wary of us, and shy, and nervous. But time has passed and he has realized that we mean no harm and, in fact, welcome him to our little piece of paradise," the couple wrote.
The monkey has been roaming the Bay area for 3-years now, spotted everywhere from Hudson and Clearwater to Temple Terrace and South St. Petersburg.
The monkey's story has garnered national attention including talk on Comedy Central's Colbert Report. A song has been written about the monkey, even a fictitious Facebook page was created for the rhesus macaque.
Florida Fish and Wildlife has tried to capture the monkey in hopes that they can place him in a wildlife facility with other macaques. Officials have feared the monkey might eventually attack someone since he is outside of his normal environment.
It is believed the monkey was originally living in the Silver Spring area before he was likely chased out of his colony.
The St. Petersburg homeowners say they can get within a foot of Mr. Monk and that he will follow them on afternoon walks along their driveway.
The couple say they feed him bananas and Oreo cookies. "He eats (the Oreos) just like you do ... he takes it apart and licks the creamy center, then eats the cookie," the family wrote.
Just as they have for three years, WFC officials hope the family will stop feeding the monkey and instead call them to have Mr. Monk captured. Gary Morse, FWC spokesperson says again they are afraid the monkey will eventually attack someone.
"While we express human kindness in certain terms that humans understand, animals don't usually understand that, they simply don't have that capacity," Morse said.
Vernon Yates, founder of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation added if the monkey is not safely captured he believes the story of Mr. Monk will have a very sad ending.
"If the monkey is starting to look at people for food, as sad as it may seem it's almost to a point, just kill him now and avoid the rush because you are setting it up for a major, major problem," Yates said.