More monkeys spotted roaming Central Florida

Florida wildlife officials issue alert over rhesus macaques

FRUITLAND PARK, Fla. – Residents of a Fruitland Park neighborhood with wild monkeys in their trees said they don't want wildlife officials to intervene.

Rhesus macaque monkeys were spotted Thursday on Water's Edge Drive in Fruitland Park.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the monkeys, possibly a family, are not related to recent sightings in Apopka, about 30 miles southeast of Fruitland Park.

Some neighbors told News 6 that they've seen the animals randomly over the years, but the monkeys have been spotted more frequently in recent weeks. Victor Smith saw one on his rooftop.

"They can jump, we had him on that roof here one night, and the edge of the roof it jumped clear cross to the other tree," Smith said.

When News 6 showed up to the Fruitland Park neighborhood, our cameras captured one of the monkeys sitting up in a tree.

Down the street, Penny Testerman said she first spotted one of the monkeys last December, but the sightings are becoming more frequent. Testerman said at least one of the monkeys has been taking oranges off her tree.

"As you can see, he's knocked all the oranges down," Testerman said."I think people are feeding them, and I think they need to stop because then they will be expecting humans to give them food, and then that's when they become aggressive."

The Fruitland Park sightings prompted the FWC to pass out fliers to residents, alerting them about the monkeys.

"Your community is being alerted and asked to provide information on past and current sightings," the FWC said. "Reports should be filed as quickly as possible after an encounter. Please be prepared to furnish several details, regarding your observation, including approximate size of the animal, location and time of day. If possible, please take a photo to aid in accurate identification."

Wildlife officials said residents should not approach or feed rhesus macaques, which have bitten or scratched multiple people in Florida.

[PICTURES: Monkeys roaming Fruitland Park]

"They can be aggressive without warning," officials said.

However Smith, and other neighbors said the monkeys don't bother them and aren't aggressive with their pets. They said if others stop feeding them, the monkeys aren't a problem.

"Let 'em alone, they're not doing nothing to you, they're not hurting you," 22-year resident Rose Ackley said.

Rhesus monkeys are about 1.5 to 2 feet tall and weigh 12 to 17 pounds, officials said. They are native to Asia and are primarily herbivores.

Anyone attacked by a monkey should wash the wound and seek medical attention, the FWC said. Although rhesus monkeys can carry herpes B, there are no known incidents of the disease being transmitted to a human in Florida.

Residents are asked to call 888-404-FWCC if they see a monkey.

Watch News 6 for more on this story.


About the Authors:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.