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Posted by Gossip Extra Staff
And wildlife authorities in Central Florida are unsure how to handle a growing population of the feral rhesus macaques, many of them infected with a virus that can be deadly for humans.
The story of how the non-native species took over the Silver River State Park itself is a doozy.
Three pairs were brought onto an island in the park by a boat-tour operator in the 1930s.
Dude figured the monkeys would make it more interesting for tourists who didn’t seem too impressed with the park’s wildlife.
But over the years, the monkeys bred like mad in the warm climate and plentiful vegetation. Many overcame their natural fear of deep water and swam onto other parts of the park.
Now, there may be as many as 1,000 of them out there — and they’re spreading.
First, they were in the woods around Silver Springs.
Then, they headed for the garbage cans of Ocala.
And some went as far as Tampa and Jacksonville.
Most of them, state officials say, are believed to be infected with herpes B virus.
Infected monkeys can live with it comfortably.
Humans, however, don’t do so well with it.
In time, state officials hired trappers to catch the critters.
But then the program was stopped after animal rights groups found out they were being sold to labs for experiments.
Remember: This is Florida!