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'Mystery Monkey' of Tampa Bay caught!

3:03 PM, Oct 24, 2012   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says they have caught a monkey that has been on the lam in St. Petersburg for two years.

The FWC tells 10 News they were able to shoot the monkey with a tranquilizer. The animal was then transported to a veterinarian's office in Safety Harbor for evaluation and testing.

Photo Gallery: Pictures of the monkey on the loose
More Pictures: First pics of the monkey in captivity

The monkey has been a mainstay in Tampa Bay for several years. It is thought the rhesus macaque escaped from a small colony of monkeys that live in Silver Springs.

It became a bit of a celebrity, getting its own Facebook page, and even being featured on Comedy Central's Colbert Report. But a new sense of urgency came to capturing the slippery simian after it attacked a St. Petersburg grandmother earlier this month.

Traps with bananas were set, but the monkey managed to steal the bananas without getting caught. Wildlife expert Vernon Yates, who has been trying to catch the animal since it was first spotted in 2009, was called in by the FWC to try to lure it with a second monkey in a cage.

SEE ALSO: What's next for the mystery monkey?

In the end, it was patience and persistence that paid off. Wildlife officials tell CBS News they were able to finally nab the monkey after a three-hour stakeout near a wooded area in a south St. Pete neighborhood.

"We concealed ourselves in the area," said Baryl Martin, spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, "and we waited for the monkey to approach."

Then the monkey was shot with a tranquilizer dart. 

Martin, along with Yates and a veterinarian, waited for the effects of the tranquilizer to set in. But the monkey made a run for it.

"When we got closer it tried to evade us," Martin said. "We chased it about 50 to 100 yards."

The trio briefly chased the monkey through the woods before Yates grabbed it with his hand and a catch pole. 

"He settled down quite a bit after we got our hands on him," Martin said.

"In some ways I'll give him credit," Yates told CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman last week about the primate's days on the run. "He knows not to get up into power lines. He'll run to a road, he stops and looks both ways for traffic before he runs across it. This is one of the most intelligent monkeys that I think I have ever seen."


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