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Monkeying around

Posted Thursday, April 2, 2009, at 5:13 PM

These grandchildren stare in fascination, as wild monkeys watch them from the banks of the 5-mile long Silver River in northern Florida. Though the little critters are well-camoflaged, I see two of them, and there may be more that my old eyes can't detect!
One of our blogger buddies has told us about the wild rhesus monkeys which live along the Silver River in Central Florida. She promised to get me some pictures of these cute little creatures the next time she took her grandchildren on a boat ride - and, true to her word - she has sent me those photos.

I intend to keep her identity as deep and dark a secret as the Silver River in the moonlight... Of course, I chose the adorable photo above, because I love to see the grandchildren and the monkeys facing off across the water. There is such fascination on both sides of the water!

I find this topic very interesting. I'm probably the only person in the world who didn't know about these monkeys. As usual, I feel as if I've been living under a rock.

Turns out that the little exotic critters have been living on the Silver River for about 70 years. Two theories for their existance are told: 1) A Colonel Tooley released them in the 1930's to enhance his Jungle Cruise boat ride, planning for them to stay on an island. They didn't. 2) They escaped during the filming of a Tarzan movie. According to one source, they've been reduced from a high of 185 in the mid-80's, but I couldn't find a definite population figure for the present.

Tourists are strictly prohibited from feeding the monkeys, but sometimes the monkeys take matters into their own hands. My blogger friend tells of some friends who had a picnic on their boat, only to turn around and see the monkeys sitting in the boat, eating sandwiches!

"There is always a sentry or two, guarding the troops," adds our anonymous Floridian.

The no-feeding rule has its reasons: Bob LaMont, manager of the 11-year-old park, says, "They don't belong here. They're a hazard to people on the river (potentially through bites and disease)."

A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection, parent agency of the state park, says that the monkey population is "being controlled, not eliminated."

Our good Florida blogger buddy has been on the river many times, but the most unusual trip featured a rare sight that they haven't seen since:

"Hundreds of them were crossing the river--headed for something! They were swinging on the vines and then leaping to the bank. Some fell in the river and had to swim to the bank on the other side. Of all the times not to have a camera!"

This scene is easy to visualize, since I've seen a similar scene in "The Jungle Book." That's my favorite scene--where the monkeys steal Mowgli from Baloo the Bear, and he dances with that cool orangutang, King Louie (enter the voice of Satchmo Armstrong!) Ahh...a classic!

In googling the Silver River monkeys, I found an account of a monkey pack which escaped from their island habitat on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 in Lakeland, Florida. There were about a dozen patase monkeys, imported from Puerto Rico, where the population was so thick that they were going to be euthanized. The wildlife experts were convinced that the monkeys would not swim the 8-foot-deep, 60-foot-wide moat around their 1-acre island reserve --- but they were wrong! Turns out that monkeys born in the wild don't have the same inhibitions as their captive-born cousins.

"They have their wild instincts intact," said one of the vets who runs the Florida Teaching Zoo in Bushnell. "It probably never occurred to them not to swim out."

A group of patases in Naples has lived on one side of a moat for decades, never venturing into the water.

I've searched unsuccessfully for an update on the story of the escaping patase monkey pack. There was a mention on Topix that five of them had been caught, but I found nothing else. Word was that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was investigating the matter, and the monkey's keepers said they carried no diseases. They were microchipped, which is very reassuring... If you Florida residents find one of these cute little critters, you can take it to the vet to see if it belongs to anyone...

That's the extent of my monkey blog, folks. I'd say that these primates are just almost as interesting as goats! And, as for that photo, wow! A jungle with real monkeys! Now, that qualifies as a "Get Away"!

From the monkeyless hills of rural Tillman, this is your roving reporter Madeline, longing for exotic boat trips down a jungle river, lined with trees full of monkeys!

Showing comments in chronological order
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Cute little critters? When we were in Bali we visited a temple that was overrun by monkeys because they were considered sacred. You could walk through the rainforest behind the temple and the monkeys would come down to the path, begging for food.

All would be okay as long as you fed them something, but as I walked past one that was sitting on a pedestal along the path, he realized I didn't have food. I turned to look at him, and he showed me his displeasure by opening his mouth, showing his 2 inch long teeth, and screamed at me!

He wasn't so cute anymore.

http://www.vimeo.com/13473 Example of the Bali monkeys

-- Posted by lovebooks on Thu, Apr 2, 2009, at 6:27 PM

MD, I hope one of these 'patases's (plural, singular, whatever) doesn't knock on your door someday wanting to discuss this article about his tribe. Hope you haven't let the cat or monkey out of the bag by this posting. How very interesting, we used to take the kids to monkey island at the Memphis Zoo and spend hours watching our neighbors relatives....lol................they are so interesting and you could almost sometimes see your best friend's antics in their display. Now how do we explain that????

Thanks for a fun article.

-- Posted by changedname on Thu, Apr 2, 2009, at 6:49 PM

Dont know what's going on, logged on as 'dexterite' shows up as changedname'.

-- Posted by changedname on Thu, Apr 2, 2009, at 7:46 PM

Oh, NO!!! Dexterite has been HIJACKED!!!

Have I ever told the story of the monkey who came to visit us on the farm, I wonder?? She escaped from a neighbor's car and showed up on our back porch one cold February. Good thing she got help when she did, because the hawks were circling. I wondered why they were so close - Then the dogs started barking like crazy! And there she was, a tiny grey spider monkey, sitting on the porch, twisting her tail like a worried old lady! My son was about four, and he was DELIGHTED -- until the owner showed up to take her away!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Apr 3, 2009, at 7:35 AM

Goat Lady, I love the monkey on the porch story! That would have been a dream-come-true when I was a kid. Isn't it amazing that she knew to come to your house for help?

-- Posted by lovebooks on Fri, Apr 3, 2009, at 8:22 AM

I love your monkey story! There are monkeys on a small island on the Homosassa River, also. They were placed there, with a hut and provisions. They don't swim to shore, for some reason. I'd much rather see those wild ones on the Silver River.

Love the blog! Good to see lovebooks back again.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Fri, Apr 3, 2009, at 10:59 AM

Haha! You should have heard me calling around to the neighboring farms, trying to find out who had lost a monkey!! I've told this so many times, but here goes:

Me: Do you know anyone who's lost a monkey?

Neighbor: A MONKEY????

Repeat conversation about 10 times with same reaction each time.

I called in to the local grocery store and could hear the customers yelling, "A MONKEY?"

Some of my neighbors even showed up at my front door asking to see the monkey. I was pretty popular for a while.

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Apr 3, 2009, at 11:14 AM

MD, All...Several years back, before her twins were born, my cousin Teresa, who lives in Kenya, discovered an infant monkey who had fallen from a tree outside their new house, and being the animal lover that she is, persuaded their groundsman to get a ladder so she could redeposit the foundling back into the tree....where she encountered a dominant adult who was in no particular mood to have the scent-tainted youngster returned to their midst, and attacked Teresa, knocking her about and eventually landing her back on the ground....I told her later that the lesson in this was "Don't Muck with the Fonkey!!,but you get the gist of it. I can't recall the breed of primate involved, but she hasn't bothered to play monkey patrol since!!!Not too many monkeys in London, where her twins are in school....molater, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Fri, Apr 3, 2009, at 12:09 PM

Good story, kk!! Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be a good Samaritan.

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Apr 3, 2009, at 1:07 PM

In Vietnam, my husband's unit took in a monkey as a pet. The most excitement the monkey brought was when he got inside a tank and started firing rounds. I think that was the last of keeping a pet monkey.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Fri, Apr 3, 2009, at 2:35 PM

That's one clever monkey!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Apr 3, 2009, at 3:13 PM

A PBS program last night about an Amazon adverturer showed video of the world's smallest monkeys. They are only found in a certain area of the Brazilian rain forest. The adults are about 4" from nose to tail. The natives allow the monkeys to come into their huts and eat with them. This is a photo of two adult monkeys, http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2006/08...

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Apr 6, 2009, at 8:33 PM

All together now, let's hear it: Ooooooohhhhh, how CUTE!!! What adorable, tiny monkeys!!!! I want one!!! (No, not really! But they are soooooooo sweet!!)

Thanks for that photo, FJ! I'll look at it whenever I need a fresh dose of CUTE!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Apr 7, 2009, at 10:51 AM

I'd have to love one of those little fellows!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Tue, Apr 7, 2009, at 3:54 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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