Monkey On The Lam Caught After 3 Years

In 2009, authorities in the Tampa Bay area got alerted to a 45lb rhesus macaque monkey hanging around the area. They couldn’t have cared less. People in the know speculate that the monkey, whom they’re calling Cornelius after the simian character from Planet of the Apes, was excommunicated from a feral colony of his brethren that lives in the Silver River State Park, about 100 miles north of Tampa. That colony dates back to 1938, when a jungle cruise boat operator released some of the macaques to make his tour better. (Rhesus macaques, by the way, are often used for scientific research and the Rh blood type factor is named for them; research on them also helped develop the smallpox, polio and rabies vaccines.) After Cornelius made it to the Tampa Bay, the urban monkey got national attention, and even caused Stephen Colbert to give the Clearwater police department a wag of the finger:

After some time, Cornelius made it to the ghetto on the south side of St. Pete, nearby Lake Maggiore. The residents were apparently pleased to have a monkey in the neighborhood and fed it and everyone was happy. One woman was particularly friendly with it and let him play with her dog and her kids, until one day Cornelius bit her. This was finally a good reason for the authorities to try to catch the beast, and they set a trap for for it. Cornelius carefully got the banana out of the trap without tripping it. They set another one, which worked, except for the fact that after being caught, Cornelius broke the door and escaped. So they set another trap and brought in a vet with a tranq gun: Cornelius never saw it coming. He pulled the dart out, stumbled off, got shot again, and then finally passed out.

Cornelius shot in the urban jungle by an anonymous photographer


The woman was quite nice and didn’t request for the monkey to be tested for rabies — which would require his brain to be inspected, which in turn would interfere with being alive. The vet says Cornelius is overweight, probably from all the junk food humans gave him, but is otherwise in good health and must have been grooming himself very well since he didn’t even have fleas. He’s about five years old now and will probably live another 15 years or so, most likely in a monkey sanctuary.

See also:

From The Tampa Bay Times, via NPR

Comments are closed.