Tag Archives: outdoors

Monkeys in Florida? iPhonatography from a jungle in Central Florida

28 May

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As I pondered ideas on what to do on Memorial Day Monday, I decided I needed to explore the land-locked area of Florida I often complain about, being a spoiled coastal girl who is accustomed to living near a beach. A friend mentioned a trip he took where he saw wild monkeys on an island in the middle of Silver River, near Silver Springs, Fla. After doing some preliminary research (mainly hear-say from Gainesville locals) I found out that  Silver River was the filming site the early Tarzan movies. Some of the monkeys escaped, bred and hence that is why there are wild monkeys in Florida.

“How cool,” I thought. I knew the area had to be gorgeous and jungle-y if a man had to surf on vines for the film.

But, after digging a bit more into the history in order to post this blog, I realized I was wrong.

The monkeys had actually arrived in 1938 when Colonel Tooey thought it would be a good idea to create a monkey island in the middle of the river and profit from “jungle cruises.” He figured it would be okay since they were on an island and “couldn’t swim.” To his surprise, when they were released they did know how to swim, which created the Rhesus monkey populations throughout Silver Springs.

Today, the monkey population is controversial because they are an invasive species who sometimes have trouble finding food. Residents have had similar complaints as those related to raccoons, such as digging through garbage. But, other residents cherish the presence of the monkeys as part of the quirkiness that is Florida. Although the term “invasive species” is often connected, at least in Florida, to not-so-cute critters, such as Lionfish, African snails and giant pythons, environment officials warn that this cute creature still has consequences on the natural ecosystems.

Today, some even capture the monkeys to be used both for research and profit.

Either way, I sure enjoyed them!

If you want to visit Silver River State Park to get a glimpse of the monkeys (who are not afraid of people, one almost jumped in our canoe), visit the Silver River State park website.