TAMPA, Florida — Staff with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have successfully captured the elusive rhesus macaque monkey that had been roaming the Tampa Bay area for nearly three years.
On Wednesday, a team including FWC staff, a local veterinarian and wildlife trapper located the monkey at Country Club Way South and Fairway Avenue South in St. Petersburg and used a tranquilizer dart to temporarily immobilize it for transport.
“It’s important to remove exotic, invasive wildlife and other wildlife that poses a threat to people and the natural environment,” said Maj. Dennis Post, regional commander for the FWC’s Southwest Region. “There has already been one documented bite from this monkey.”
Rhesus macaques are powerful monkeys capable of seriously injuring an adult human. They also can carry the simian herpes-B virus, which can be transmitted to humans. Untreated scratches, bites or cuts from an infected animal could prove fatal.
The FWC says it’s also in the best interest of the monkey to be captured and removed.
“The urban environment of Tampa Bay is not the monkey’s natural habitat and posed a threat to its health,” Post said.
Rhesus macaques have a highly evolved society where the health and well-being of each individual is largely dependent on the cooperation of other troop members, especially for defense purposes.
The monkey will undergo veterinary evaluations and ultimately be placed in an appropriate facility where it can live safely among others of its kind.