Florida’s invasive herpes monkeys can now be found from Jacksonville to Tampa


Rhesus macaque - PHOTO VIA ADOBE STOCK
  • Photo via Adobe Stock
  • Rhesus macaque
Silver Springs State Park has been home to a large troop of invasive, STD-carrying monkeys for almost a century, but now sightings are becoming more frequent in Florida cities hundreds of miles from the park.

According to a new report from First Coast News, the population of rhesus macaques has expanded considerably over the years, and the monkeys are now being spotted in northeast cities like St. Johns, St. Augustine, Palatka, Welaka and Elkton, and as far south as Apopka and Tampa.

The monkeys were originally part of a failed tourist attraction called Colonel Tooey's Jungle Cruise in the 1930s.

A survey performed in 2018 found that the Silver Springs troop now consists of roughly 300 monkeys, and 25 percent of that population carries herpes B, which, while extremely rare in humans, can cause brain damage or even death if not treated immediately.

The report states that efforts to control the rhesus macaques population ceased in 2012, but a feeding ban was put in place by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2017. The FWC reported 23 incidents of human injuries between 1977 and 1984, but has not kept records since.

In November 2019, a kayaker in Silver Springs State Park filmed dozens of monkeys diving from trees uncomfortably close to his boat.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.