For almost a century, Florida has been dealing with a large troop of invasive monkeys that also carry a deadly strain of STDs, and last month a kayaker in Silver Springs State Park filmed them diving from trees uncomfortably close to his boat.
In the video, which was obtained by Orlando television station WESH, Ocala resident Rod Guynn shows what appears to be dozens of invasive rhesus macaques jumping from trees along the shoreline into the Silver River.
The state park currently is home to a growing population of roughly 300 monkeys, which were left behind from a tourist attraction called Colonel Tooey's Jungle Cruise in the 1930s. Ironically, Colonel Tooey, left placed the monkeys on an island in the middle of the river because he actually thought they couldn’t swim, and as you can see in the video, this is not the case.
While incredibly cute and symbolic of Florida’s constant battle with invasive species, the monkeys have become a growing concern with wildlife officials because of their STDS.
A study conducted in 2018 from the Centers for Disease Control found that about 25% of the Silver Spring monkey population carried herpes B, which can cause brain damage in humans or even death if not treated immediately. However, despite the fact the virus is transmitted through saliva and other bodily fluids (notably thrown turds), there has been no known transmission of herpes B from a wild rhesus macaque to a human.
The monkeys have also been known to venture out of the park to places as far as The Villages, Apopka, and even Tampa.
Last year, the The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stated that they support the removal of the monkeys from the state park, but did not say how or when they would complete this task.
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