Monkey hit, killed on SR 200 in Ocala
A monkey, believed to be a rhesus macaque from Silver Springs State Park, was hit by vehicle and killed early Wednesday near the Golden Corral Buffet & Grill on State Road 200, which is near the intersection with Southwest 17th Street.
The death came about 24 hours after three Star-Banner advertising representatives and a reporter saw the reddish-color monkey running through the parking lot early Tuesday. Th animal headed toward the back of the Pearson Nissan dealership nearby.
Ocala police spokeswoman Cpl. Cynthia Barnes confirmed that the incident occurred early Wednesday morning.
It was not clear, however, who, or which agency, removed the carcass.
Greg Workman, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said sightings of the feral monkeys in heavily populated areas are not unusual. He said the commission does not oversee the monkeys and that the agency would only get involved if the monkey that died had been a pet that got away from its owner.
Rhesus macaque monkeys, which are native to Asia, were brought to the Silver Springs Attraction in 1938. Colonel Tooey, who operated the tour boat that became known as the Jungle Cruise, purchased several monkeys from a circus to put on a small island in a Silver River tributary to enhance the ride for visitors.
Tooey was assured the monkeys could not swim, but later learned they could. Many of the monkeys migrated off the island and a number of colonies have since been established. Today, there are more than 1,000 of the monkeys statewide, most of them in Marion County.
For years, it was mistakenly thought the monkeys were left behind by the production crew of “Tarzan Finds a Son,” which was filmed near Silver Springs in 1939.
Workman said rhesus macaques find wooded corridors in which to travel and that some from this area have gone as far south as Orlando. One rhesus macaque, believed to be from Silver Springs, made its way to Tampa Bay in 2008 and evaded capture for four years. He became known as the “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” and even had a Facebook page dedicated to him, which had more than 82,500 friends.
Workman said rhesus macaque monkeys are known to carry hepatitis and the herpes B virus and that anyone who handled the animal Wednesday morning should have worn wear gloves and other protection.