HUDSON, Fla. – There’s another monkey on the loose in Florida and it's following the same path of Cornelius, the famous Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay. It was spotted most recently in Hudson on Wednesday morning, and according to reports of other sightings it is moving south.
Pictures taken by Rick Akins in Hudson show the monkey near homes, which is why the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to remind everyone not to feed the monkey or approach it.
“They can carry diseases that can spread to people,” said veterinarian Dr. Don Woodman. “It’s normal monkey behavior to be curious, it’s normal human behavior to be curious.
"Humans find them interesting and think they’re cute so humans try to make friends with them. They end up inevitably getting bit and then people want to kill the monkey.”
"I saw what I thought was a big cat sitting on that seawall and I was standing up on my deck and a looked down and it moved, it started walking, and when it started walking I said 'oh! It's not a cat’,” said Akins. "It kept coming down and testing the water and then finally it just jumped in and swam across and came up on the floating dock."
Minutes later, Akins saw a Fish and Wildlife official come around the corner.
“They were going off in that direction and I hollered at them and said ‘Hey, are you looking for a monkey?’ and they said ‘yeah, we’re looking for a monkey’ and I said ‘he went that away,” added Akins. “They weren’t too far behind him but I don’t think they ever caught him, I think the monkey was on a mission. He was headed south.”
"Basically he is following Cornelius' footsteps and, eventually, give or take within a week to ten days he'll probably be in Pinellas County,” said Vernon Yates, the biologist that tracked and ultimately rescued Cornelius the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay in 2012.
Yates suspects this monkey probably came from the same troop and says the state needs to take notice.
“He’s probably going to be a male and he’s probably going to be somewhere 5-8 years old and my opinion, though it’s yet to be proven, is he will be one that has been banished from the troop up in Silver Springs,” said Yates.
"It's not uncommon, it seems like at least once a month we get called, somebody in the Tampa Bay area sees one,” he added. "It is something, in my opinion, that the state of Florida really, really should address."
The public is urged to secure their trash to avoid attracting the monkey and not to approach or feed it, as it can cause serious harm.
Report sightings immediately to the Wildlife Alert Hotline, 888-404-3922, or during business hours to the Exotic Species Hotline, 888-Ive-Got1.
(© 2017 WTSP)