Florida residents are going bananas after this scary rise in monkey sightings

May 10, 2024

Florida is home to a wide variety of wildlife and it is known for its crazy situations.

But nothing could prepare residents of one town for what they saw.

And Florida residents are going bananas after this scary rise in monkey sightings.

Wild monkeys were seen wandering around Florida towns

Florida is home to exotic wildlife like alligators, Florida panthers, and sea turtles. 

Invasive species like iguanas and pythons have become a nuisance in the Sunshine State.

Now residents in one Florida town are reporting monkey sightings.

Clermont, Florida resident Aime Krug told Fox 35 that she was shocked to see a monkey strolling down the street in her neighborhood.

“This monkey went across the road, and I had to do a double take because I didn’t think that it was actually a monkey,” Krug said.

Maxel Miranda also saw a monkey in Groveland, which is the next town west of Clermont.

“I was picking up my daughter at school, and then I saw [what] I thought was a cat,” Miranda explained. “When I got closer, I saw it was a monkey.”

Primate expert Linda Wasko identified the monkeys from the photos that residents had taken as rhesus macaques.

The rhesus macaque is a small monkey that is native to Asia and typically weighs 12 to 17 pounds.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said that rhesus macaque monkeys have been sighted recently in Lake County, west of Orlando.

“Based on the coloration, body shape, face shape, and nearness to an established population, the animal in the photo shared with us appears to be a rhesus macaque,” the Fish and Wildlife Commission stated.

Monkeys arrived in Central Florida decades ago

The local rumor was that monkeys were released when the 1939 movie Tarzan Finds a Son was filmed in the area.

But the arrival of these mischievous primates predates that.

The manager of a glass-bottom boat ride released several of them onto an island in the Silver River hoping to drum up business.

However, he did not realize that rhesus macaques knew how to swim, and they soon escaped the island.

The monkeys swam to the forests in the area and began to multiply.

More monkeys were released in 1948 and boat ride operators would use food to lure them out for the tourists.

Another man spotted one of the monkeys near the local high school which mistook for a cat at first.

“Then when I get closer, I saw it was a monkey,” the man said.

Police in Clermont received multiple reports of monkeys being sighted by residents.

“We can’t believe it! We have raccoons, and we have squirrels and stuff in our attic from time to time, but we’ve never seen a monkey, so that’s absolutely crazy,” local resident Simon Weafer told FOX 35. “We will definitely be a bit cautious when we go out into the yard now.”

Ocala resident Matt Schwanke recorded the monkeys going bananas at Silver Springs State Park in 2022.

“Just sounded like war going on back there,” Schwanke recalled. “Just crazy hootin’ and hollerin’ and screechin’ and branches. It was just the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”

DeSantis Daily will keep you up-to-date on any new developments in this ongoing story.

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