A wild monkey has been seen roaming the streets of Orange City, Florida, posing a threat to humans.
Users were able to recognize the animal as a rhesus macaque from pictures that were uploaded on numerous social media platforms.
Numerous reports of the primate have been made to the Orange City Police Department, but by the time officers show up at the scene, the monkey has left. Since no one has reported a lost monkey, authorities are unsure of its origin. Additionally, it is unknown to authorities whether there are several monkeys roaming free or just one. Wildlife officials believe it to be one adult male rhesus monkey from the Silver Springs state park, where a population of monkeys resides, based on the images that have been circulated.
Native to Southeast Asia, rhesus macaques can be found from China to Afghanistan. However, a local boat captain released some rhesus monkeys in north-central Florida in the 1930s to draw visitors, and researchers released more in the Florida Keys in the 1970s, which had disastrous effects on the surrounding mangroves. This kind of monkey is also known to steal and eat eggs from native bird species, decimating their numbers.
Because of the risk of diseases that monkeys may carry and the potential for hostility towards humans, wildlife officials strongly advise the public not to feed or associate in any way with the primate. Rhesus macaques, despite being little, may be hazardous. They carry the risk of e. coli, herpes B, and rabies. Herpes B is an uncommon viral infection that, if left untreated, can cause severe brain damage or even death.
Although there haven’t been any proven cases of monkeys transmitting Herpes B to humans, the wildlife commission reports that there have been 18 documented instances of wild monkeys biting or scratching someone in Florida.
In Florida, feeding wild monkeys is also a second-class misdemeanor that carries a $500 fine and a maximum jail sentence of 60 days.