The “mystery monkey” of Tampa Bay Florida has finally been caught, ending the free reign the non-native animal had in the St. Petersburg area.
Tampa Bay Online reports that the monkey, technically a rhesus macaque, first appeared in the St. Petersburg area around three years ago, and, since the first sighting, animal control officials had been on a search for the mystery monkey. That search ended Wednesday in the neighborhood where the monkey appeared to have made a home, some friends, and even some enemies.
Fox 13 reports that the search for the mystery monkey picked up recently after the animal was accused of biting a woman in the neighborhood earlier this month. Not everyone in the area, however, was happy to see the monkey go.
A neighbor, Jodi Kaufman, said she’ll miss him.
“Off and on I’d catch a glimpse of him, which was exciting to see him,” Kaufman said. “He doesn’t really belong here; he belongs with other monkeys, so I think this is good.”
Mystery monkey’s fame grew each time he was spotted and then eluded officials. A Facebook fan page was created, local media followed his exploits, and he even was featured on an episode of the Colbert Report.
Mysterious or not, however, a rhesus macaque does not belong loose in the suburbs of Tampa Bay. Like any wild animal, the monkey could be a danger. A woman was bitten and scratched by the animal earlier this month and had to undergo a series of rabies shots.
Don Woodman, a Safety Harbor veterinarian, shot the monkey Wednesday with a tranquilizer gun after a long stakeout, but that wasn’t enough to stop it. The monkey removed the dart and went about its business. Woodman claimed the first dart should have brought down a “Tampa Bay linebacker,” but the mystery monkey took it in stride.
Wildlife rescuer Vernon Yates made the final capture.
“He’s twice the monkey he was when we started after him a couple years ago,” said Yates. “I was just bound and determined, this close, he was not getting away. Yeah, I pretty much tackled him, him and I rolled a couple times in the underbrush.”
The mystery monkey was taken to a vet and checked out. He appears to be in good health and will eventually be placed in an animal sanctuary of some kind where he can live and play with other monkeys.