Dade City, Florida -- The nationally known Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay is set to be handed over by the state to the man who tracked him down Thursday.
It's one of the final steps before he can move to a new, permanent zoo home at Dade City's Wild Things.
Word that Cornelius, as the Mystery Monkey is now known, is officially changing hands came from the staff at the monkey's new long-term home.
Dade City's Wild Things is the zoo where Cornelius will live out his days with the company of at least one female of his kind, and potentially more.
On Thursday the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissionis transferring custody of the Mystery Monkey to Vernon Yates. Yates is the wildlife expert who tracked him for years as he roamed the Tampa Bay Area.
Along with veterinarian Dr. Don Woodman, Yates will move Cornelius out of quarantine in Palm Harbor on Monday and into a new temporary enclosure at Dade City's Wild Things.
The zoo is closed to the public on Mondays, which should ease the Mystery Monkey's transition to his new environment, zookeeper Randy Stearns said.
To support its newest resident, the zoo has launched a Mystery Monkey Fan Club.
Contributions made by new club members will pay to build a new, large permanent habitat for Cornelius and the one or more other Rhesus macaques who will live with him.
After Yates, Woodman, and FWC officers captured the Mystery Monkey, they gave him the name Cornelius, after a brilliant ape character in the movie Planet of the Apes.