Wild Monkey Sightings Spark Florida Warning

Take a photo from a distance, residents are advised
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2023 2:08 PM CDT
Wild Monkey Sightings Sparks Florida Warning
Police released a photo of a rhesus macaque monkey on the loose in Orange City, Florida.   (Orange City Police Department)

Please don't feed the monkeys, Florida officials are warning residents. They're not talking about animals in a zoo but the ones spotted several times in the past week roaming Orange City. Police and animal control officers and police haven't been able to find the wild monkeys, so they're not sure if they're dealing with more than one species or more than one monkey, NBC News reports. At least one of them was a rhesus macaque, native to Asia, which can become aggressive when it's fed, the state's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says.

An adult male rhesus macaque was spotted by an employee who was looking out the drive-thru window of a Popeyes on Wednesday, per WESH. "I'm like this cannot be possible," Kim Bialobos said, adding, "He's a smart monkey 'cause he stopped right here, and he looked over at the traffic, and he knew not to go that way." Monkeys of the species have tested positive for herpes B in Florida; the CDC says the viral infection can lead to severe brain damage or death if not treated quickly. The wildlife commission says 18 cases of the monkeys scratching or biting humans have been reported in the state, but none of herpes B contractions.

A tourist attraction first brought the monkeys to central Florida in the 1930s, and some escaped, per People. They were spotted in northeast Florida in 2020. Under state law, feeding wild monkeys can bring a sentence of 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. It also increases the chances of an attack and disease transmission, officials said. The commission advises anyone who sees a wild monkey to "take a photo from a safe distance" and call 888-404-3922. The same Popeyes recently had a bear in its parking lot. (More rhesus monkeys stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.