ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- The mystery monkey of Tampa Bay has been a celebrity for more than three years now. He has been spotted all over the Bay area, has his own Facebook page, been featured on Comedy Central's Colbert Report, and has been a popular resident in south St. Petersburg... until now.
The rhesus macaque has bitten someone in the area of Boyd Hill Nature Park, an elderly woman.
Jeff Seilbach is a neighbor of the woman who was attacked, and says it was just a matter of time. "You should see my neighbor's back. The bite marks and claw marks. It just shows you what this animal is capable of," says Seilbach.
10 News spoke with the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous.
"I was in shock. He's been here about a year and a half, that we've known... but they're still wild animals," she says. "Lately he's gotten aggressive with male teenagers, male people. And the people in the neighborhood stay at a distance, but they don't realize at any given moment, he could flip.
On Tuesday, the victim's daughter told 10 News, "The monkey is not afraid of people, so I don't go outside very often. I don't trust the monkey."
Neighbor Jeff agrees. Just a few months ago, wildlife officials urged the public not to feed the monkey, fearing he would become dependant on humans for food, becoming aggressive, and that's exactly what's happened.
"He gets up in my tree and starts shaking it because he wants to be fed. If you don't feed him, he cops an attitude," says Seilbach.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission issued this statement Tuesday night: "FWC's concern is for the woman who was bitten and the animal. In order to bring this to its best possible conclusion, we need the cooperation of everyone in staying away from the area so that we can do our job."
The monkey attack victim says she hopes the animal will not be killed, but instead captured and put in a sanctuary. Officials believe the monkey was cast out of a colony in Silver Springs, near Ocala.
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