Florida is home to several invasive species, and no, we’re not talking about the seasonal snowbirds or Florida Man. Pythons, iguanas, and wild boar are just a few of the animals that run amuck in the Sunshine State. And wild monkeys in Florida? Oh, we’ve got plenty of them, too. Particularly of the herpes-carrying variety, and now they’ve been seen migrating to the First Coast and other areas in the northeast of Florida.
While most of Twitter seems unphased and is even making light of the situation with memes and jokes, many are worried — and these monkeys should not be tampered with.
Surprised and concerned homeowners in Julington Creek, Jacksonville were sharing videos and photos of the new invasive residents early this week.
The monkeys have also been spotted in St. Johns, St. Augustine, Palatka, Welaka, Tampa, Apopka, and Elkton.
Officials from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) say the monkeys are likely an expansion of the rhesus macaque population that originated from Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, not far from Orlando.
Dr. Steve Johnson, a primate scientist of the University of Florida, reported to First Coast News that this is the first time the monkeys have been seen on the First Coast and that while they do carry the Herpes B virus, it's a low-risk, but high consequence, situation.
One Twitter user joked that this was a very interesting time to be alive.
Herpes-infected monkeys have officially been named an invasive species back home. What a time to be alive.— sam🌱 (@sam🌱) 1580439858.0
The monkeys are generally skittish around humans but can be very smart and adaptable. Johnson even has research supporting that the Silver Springs monkey population would frequent the river more on weekends.
Why? Because that’s when more people — and more snacks — showed up.
This Twitter user reiterated their desire for pest control to take care of the monkeys.
Everyone laughed at me for wanting a national pest control agency to eliminate invasive species but you don't live… https://t.co/eHrnqCqLw1— Muffuletta Matzo Man (@Muffuletta Matzo Man) 1580491067.0
One of the most well-known monkey colonies in Florida, the original macaque population was introduced into the wild by a tour boat operator trying to create more of an attraction for potential guests.
Another Twitter user took it all in stride, joking that 'herpes monkeys' could only be found in Florida (because where else right?).
@jean_dodge oh come on. where else would have herpes monkeys?— Candygram for Mongo (@Candygram for Mongo) 1580484834.0
While the FWC made it illegal to feed wild monkeys in 2017 and has agreed that active management needs to be put forth to contain and the continued monkey expansion, they have not commented yet on what methods they may use moving forward.
In the meantime, it's advised that one use caution when spotting these monkeys in the wild.