If you've ever explored the lesser touched areas of Florida's forests, you really feel like you've been transported into the jungle — you won't see any jumping from tree to tree at most places in Florida, but you actually can see wild monkeys roam at Silver Springs State Park.
Monkeys aren't native to the U.S. but thrive in the jungle-like forests surrounding Silver Springs. Many visitors have seen them drinking from the river, sitting on branches admiring the lush landscape, or even swimming and bathing in the water. An estimated 300+ monkeys roam the park with populations expected to double by 2022 according to The Wildlife Society.
The monkeys that you may see are called Feral Rhesus Macaques, which are native to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, India, and China according to National Geographic — but how did these adorable babies get here?
The actual reason the monkeys have made their home here is unknown; depending on who you ask they may believe that they escaped from the original filming of the movie 'Tarzan Finds a Son' or that they were privately owned and released into the region by a jungle cruise ship manager looking to create a Tarzan attraction.
Probably the best way to see them is to kayak the spring's river runs — you can book a kayak tour with a nearby guide service like BK Adventure's Monkey Tour, go it alone by renting a kayak from the state park facility, or launching off the docks with your own 'yak for super cheap.
The monkeys can also occasionally be seen while hiking in the Ocala National Forest, a gorgeous place that made it on our 15 central Florida road trips bucket list. Families with lawns backing up to the forest have photographed swarms of them coming right up into their back yards.
While they're generally docile and avoid contact with humans, they may attack if they feel threatened. According to National Geographic, some may carry a form of the deadly Herpes B virus, which can be spread to humans, although they stress it is extremely rare.
It's always best to respect the animals in their habitat and enjoy from afar.
Whatever the reason these monkeys made it here, we think it's awesome that we Floridians can see these cute fluffy babies in the wild!
An overview of Silver Springs State Park can be seen below.
Silver Springs State Park
Price: $2 park admission, $4 kayak or canoe launch fee if you bring your own.
Single kayaks can be rented at $15/hour, $20/2 hours, or $40 for the whole day.
Tandem kayaks are $20/hour, $30/2 hours, or $45 for the whole day.
Address: 5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488
Hours: 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. year-round; kayaking hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with last rentals at 4 p.m.
Why You Need To Go: Kayak or canoe the springs and river runs, admire the lush landscape, and even see wild roaming monkeys thriving in the Florida forests. You can even book a kayak tour if you don't want to go it alone.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.