Ocala, Florida - In the 1930's, a tour boat operator named Colonel Tooey thought all he needed was a little monkey business. So, he bought six Asian rhesus monkeys and placed them on a manmade island in the Silver River. Tooey thought the monkeys would be the perfect draw for this Jungle Cruise boat ride.
But, what Tooey didn't know was that the monkeys could swim. Within a few hours, the six rhesus monkeys swam off the island and disappeared into the woods.
Today, the monkeys continue to roam free along the banks of the Silver River and officials now believe they number in the hundreds.
"To see monkeys in Central Florida or America just blows people's minds," said Tom O'Lenick, operator of Captain Tom's Custom Charters.
O'Lenick believes the monkey that has been spotted in the Bay area came from Silver Springs. Vernon Yates of Wildlife Rescue and Rehab agrees. He says the monkey was likely chased off when he challenged one of the other adult monkeys. "So, now he's a nomad looking for a new home to call his own and a new group of monkeys," Yates said. "But, unfortunately for him, he's not going to find (another) troop of rhesus around."
The monkey spotted in the Bay area has been giving officials the slip for a year. Over the weekend, he was spotted in St. Petersburg's Pinellas Point Park. The monkey has been the talk of the Bay area, with someone even launching a Facebook fan page for him.
Preston Rudie, 10 Connects