Off Beat Stories

Mar 5, 2010 10:23 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Elusive monkey escapes Florida wildlife officers

An elusive monkey has escaped Florida wildlife officers...again.

Even after being hit twice with tranquilizer darts, the rhesus macaque that has been on the loose for months in the Tampa Bay area managed to escape Wednesday afternoon.

The monkey was spotted about 2 p.m. near 54th Avenue South and 22nd Street South, said Gary Morse, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Officials with the commission, police and wildlife rehabilitator Vernon Yates went to the scene.

The monkey was in some trees when it was hit with two tranquilizers. It then jumped from tree to tree, landed on a subdivision road and crossed it. It went back in a tree and led officers on a chase behind a Walgreens and a church off 54th Avenue South, then vanished.

"The drugs just don't seem to affect him for whatever reason," Yates said. "We've increased the dosage every time that we've shot him. What we're really doing is turning him into a drug addict."

The monkey presents no threat to humans, Yates said. He has been tracking it for a more than a year, since it was spotted in Hudson.

The far-ranging monkey was sighted several times in Hillsborough County and northern Pinellas County.

"It's a non-native species and doesn't belong in Florida," Yates said. He said the animal is intelligent. "He runs to a busy street; he just doesn't just run, dart through traffic like a normal cat or dog does," Yates said. "He stops and looks."

Morse asked the public and media to help experts catch the monkey by staying away next time it's spotted.



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