Why Are There Monkeys At Silver Springs?
As far as the Silver Springs in Florida goes, the monkeys that thrive there are an invasive species that carry a chronic disease that could be fatal to humans. While there’s a lot to explore on the silver springs, the monkeys are to watch out for, as they can ambush you out of nowhere and might even pass on Herpes to you.
Silver Springs Park has been one of the main tourist attractions of the place, but the monkey infestation began about 80 years ago. Now they are almost 300 in number, and their population is expected to double in the next few years.
When Did The Monkeys Invade The Silver Springs?
The monkeys belong to the species Rhesus macaque, indigenous to south and southeast Asia. So how did these monkeys land up in the Floridan Silver Springs Park?
In 1938, a tour boat operator, Colonel Tooey, released just 6 Rhesus macaque monkeys onto a small island, later converted to Silver Springs Park. His motive was to create a park closely resembling the Tarzan story; therefore, he procured the monkeys from New York City.
But what Colonel Tooey didn’t know is that this particular species of monkeys are excellent swimmers – they escaped the premises within minutes of releasing them. Thus, to replace them, six more monkeys were bought. They, too, escaped like the previous batch. By the early 1980s, these monkeys had already spread across what now is the 5000-acre Silver Springs Park.
As they began to grow in numbers, the Floridan government ordered the removal of 1000 of these monkeys from the place between 1984 and 2012. 20 female monkeys of the same species were sterilized too.
The officials believe that if they can sterilize half of the existing female population, they can significantly reduce the growth of this species. However, the removal and sterilization procedure was stopped in 2012 when authorities discovered that these monkeys were sold to biomedical researchers to be experimented upon. This raised concern among animal rights researchers too.
How Are These Monkeys Around Human Beings?
Unlike other species in Silver Springs Park that are scared to be amongst human beings, the Rhesus macaques monkeys are particularly calm and comfortable whenever interacting with a human being. However, they aren’t afraid of the visitors; they sometimes get aggressive and nasty, causing a nuisance for the visitors.
As for the diet of these monkeys, they are primarily herbivorous. But they can also survive on small insects, bird eggs, and invertebrates. Owing to their diverse and readily available diet, these monkeys can thrive in almost any condition, thus making it favorable for them to live in the park and its premises.
How Are These Monkeys A Threat To Human Beings?
The monkeys can get aggressive when you try to feed or get close to them. At times, they might chase you down for a long time. They don’t get tired easily, so you are put in a tough spot, and your only resort may be to get help from the authorities.
Another hidden threat is that more than 30 percent of these monkeys have Herpes B. If contracted by humans, it can cause brain and spinal cord swelling, which ultimately leads to death. The body fluids of these monkeys are the main culprit, and therefore, restrict yourself from getting closer to them no matter how cute and calm they appear.
Even though they are considered a menace to the visitors, some locals love them and are against removing these monkeys from the park.
The local government authorities and the researchers agree that these non-native monkeys are a big problem to the park and put humans in grave danger. However, without a proper reduction plan in place, their numbers could easily double in the next few years, and it may be too late, and then the only solution would be their complete removal.