Florida is Home to Over 1,000 Rhesus Monkeys Infected With Herpes
Posted on September 14, 2013A New York Post story has the headline, "Herpes-infected monkeys terrorize Florida." The article says over a thousand wild Rhesus monkeys, some infected with the deadly Herpes B virus, are now roaming the state of Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) does list the Rhesus monkey as a nonnative mammal in Florida. It says, "Individuals can be aggressive to humans and pose potentially serious hazards due to transmission of diseases to humans, including the simian herpes B virus."
The Rhesus monkey problem can be blamed on Colonel Tooey. Here's what happened:
- Colonel Tooey wanted his "Jungle Cruise" at Florida's Silver River State Park in 1938 to be more exciting so it would attract tourists. Tooey felt the cruise needed monkeys. The Post says the Colonel was inspired the film, Tarzan.
- Colonel Tooey established the Silver River colony of Rhesus monkeys on a man-made island in the park in 1938.
- The monkey colony grew in size.
- The monkeys learned how to swim or more likely, already knew how to swim according to a 1986 Orlando Sentinel story.
- The monkeys started to show up hundreds of miles away from the Silver River colony in other parts of Florida.
Captain Tom O'Lenick, the current Silver River tour operator, defends the actions Colonel Tooey took decades ago. O'Lenick told the New York Post, "From my point of view, as a naturalist, I think the planet changes naturally and species do move around, whether that is by man or other means."