News comes from the east, from Flagler County, of a fugitive, Palm Coast's newest most wanted, a fanged and evasive suspect who has puzzled law enforcement for days.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal published a mug shot of the villain on Monday. Perched high in a tree, the suspect's eyes are fixed in a thousand-yard stare. His mouth is agape, his lower canines exposed and sharp. He looks very much like . . . it couldn't be.
"I've seen deer. I've seen snakes," a woman told the News-Journal. "But a monkey? You've got to be kidding me."
Is there a chance the Tampa Bay Mystery Monkey — who hasn't made news here in months — left us behind for the east coast?
There are similarities, to be sure. Beyond appearance (white chest and facial markings, red eye bands — most likely a rhesus macaque), the monkey is making residents and police officials cock their heads in a similar manner. He seems to have the same desire for freedom; he shook off a tranquilizer dart. And he seems to have an affinity for publicity, popping up in the news and on television time and again.
Is it possible? Could it be the same monkey that moved us for months, that brought us together around the common "Go, monkey, go" rallying cry?
Let's call the man who knows.
"Our monkey is still down in the pink streets," says wildlife trapper Vernon Yates. "I get a call on him at least once a week."
Yates says the people of south St. Petersburg are aiding and abetting our macaque. One woman says the little guy eats in her back yard every night, but she won't let Yates in.
He suspects the Flagler Monkey (who — surprise! — already has his own Facebook page) came from the same Ocala-based troop. If it turns out to be a male, Yates said, it's likely he tried to mate and got whooped and had to split to find another troop. In India, he'd have found one. In the Sunshine State, like so many of us, he wound up alone and confused.
Go, monkey. Go.
Ben Montgomery, Times staff writer