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article imageOp-Ed: The mystery monkey of Tampa Bay

By Melissa Horrocks     Aug 23, 2012 in Odd News
Tampa - What does a monkey and Tampa Bay have in common? Well, there's a monkey lurking on the streets of Tampa Bay, a mystery monkey just wanting to play.
Tampa Bay residents fear they are going banana's over a monkey that has been lurking on the streets. The monkey made its appearance behind a Bennigan's. Just outside Tampa Bay is a row of quick-casual joints that include, Panda Express and Chipotle. The monkey is a clever little thing who knows how to get away from the darts that seek to capture it.
A person noticed that the monkey was poking through a Dumpster around lunchtime. An animal trapper, named Vernon Yates, was called out, but all that he could see was an oblong ball of light brown fur, fast asleep in the crown of an oak. It was a male rhesus macaque - a pink faced, two foot tall species, native to Asia. The macaque weighed around 25 pounds.
There were no pet macaques reported missing in Tampa Bay and nobody was even licensed to keep one in the area. Yates who is experienced at catching monkey's was amazed at how much street cred, the macaque had. Most pet monkeys that have escaped will cower and stumble if they are not familiar with their environment. They usually race in front of traffic and cause bedlam. Yet, this monkey ran from the tranquilizer dart, swung out of the canopy and hit the ground running.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission believed that the macaque had come from a small population of free-roaming, wild macaques that reside in the Silver River forest, 100 miles away. However, the F.W.C gave warning to people that the macaque could be carrying the herpes B virus. The virus is not easily transmitted to humans, but nonetheless it can be fatal. They are also known for throwing feces at people they do not like. (Now that's what I call monkey business!)
During the following days, sightings mounted up and it became clear that the monkey was crossing the highway repeatedly. (No more a pelican crossing, but a monkey crossing!) Frustratingly, Yates and an F.W.C investigator called James Manson tried once more to tranquilize the macaque. However, the clever thing ran off before the drug had taken effect. At one point, the monkey was frozen still, above Manson, but just before he could grab the monkey, it turned its head and was gone. This is where the story really begins, Manson told The New York Times.
It was the third week of January 2009, yet three years later, the macaque is still on the run. The animal showed up on the opposite side of Old Tampa Bay, somehow it had crossed the West Courtney Campbell Causeway, a low-lying bridge nearly 10 miles long. Then, that fall, it reared its ugly, but rather intelligent head, in a poor-income neighborhood in East Tampa, crouching in a tree. An F.W.C lieutenant mistook the macaque for a raccoon and barked at it. However, the mischievous monkey urinated on him and took off.
By the following spring the list of sightings had grown enormously. The macaque had been running around the neighborhood, jumping, springing and generally causing a rook around the bay, overland and down the Gulf Coast and into St. Petersburg where it scrambled over the roof of a Baptist Church during evening service. One witness told The Tampa Bay Times that the monkey had come to worship God.
One woman watched the monkey swing off a tree limb before taking a dip in her swimming pool. The determined monkey was making news on the apevine, all through Tampa Bay. The clever monkey dodged government agencies who were determined to capture it. The state views the monkey as a threat and danger to humans. However, the public saw the monkey as a mascot, an outlaw and a rebel that stood up for American freedom.
Vernon Yates who is 59 has had many endangered and exotic animals at his home. Many pets are confiscated from owners who failed to comply with state regulations. Yates is astonished with this macaque who has had an amazing adventure across Tampa Bay. Yates believes he has chased the animal down about 100 times in total, since 2009. The animal has had over 12 darts that it has slept off in the woods. On a number of occasions, the macaque has even looked Yates in the eye and pulled the dart out in front of him.
Yahoo News reports, sightings of the monkey are less common now, since nobody wants it to be caught. People in the area, believe that the monkey should be left to get up to its business and run free. Residents had even rang the government hot line to report the monkey, but gave totally useless information. Therefore, sticking their fingers up at the government. The mystery monkey of Tampa Bay had become a celebrity. Mystery monkey T-shirts even went on sale with a catchphrase: Go, Monkey, Go.
According to Tampa Bay News, there are around 22 species of macaque monkeys living in many parts of the world. They are known for their complex social behavior and surprising wiles.
The Tampa Bay monkey took residence outside a Pinellas County family's home earlier this year. I think it will have lot's of fun sliding down the banana-sters!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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