ST. PETERSBURG — That wily Pinellas monkey is at it again and appears to be heading north.
This time, his flashy appearance on a pool deck left a terrified Coquina Key homeowner shuttered in her home for hours.
"I stayed inside all day," said Rosalie Broten, 59. "I didn't know what to do."
Broten, of 4401 Menhaden Drive SE, opened her back door Monday morning to take in the sweet spring smells of confederate jasmine and roses while brewing coffee.
But as soon as she opened the door, she saw the famed rhesus macaque sitting just 10 feet away. He whipped his head around and kept his body still as they stared at one another. Then he darted sideways, even faster than she expected.
"We made the eye contact," Broten said. "He has a very well-groomed face."
Broten said she called wildlife officials and warned her neighbors with little kids.
She was home alone for the 7:30 a.m. sighting and didn't let Rambeaux, her 6-pound Maltese-Pekingese mix, out of her sight.
Or Daisy, the 70-pound black Labrador, for that matter.
"I never saw anything like it in my life," she said, "and I'm a camper."
When her husband, Steve, 52, came home from work that night, they went outside and looked for any traces of a monkey visit. They found none and left a fruit and veggie feast of watermelon, tangerines and carrots.
The monkey didn't take the bait, and she hasn't seen him since. If only she had the camera Monday morning.
"I guess that's why they call him elusive," Broten said.
But leaving food for the monkey — or even inviting the monkey to approach you — is the worst choice someone could make, said Gary Morse, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Morse's exact reaction when he heard about the fruit plate: "Oh no."
"If you encourage them to come too close, the dangers rise and they are potentially deadly," he said.
He said the best thing to do is call the commission's wildlife alert hotline at (888)404-FWCC (or 3922). "If it's in a place where we think we can capture it, we will," Morse said.
People have reported monkey sightings for more than a year all over Pinellas County, even as far north as Oldsmar, he said. Morse really doubts more than one monkey is on the lam.
"Which ones are really the monkey and which ones aren't are to be debated," he said.
The last reported sighting was in the Pinellas Point area, a couple miles south of Coquina Key. Officials believe the monkey is from an established group in Silver Springs near Ocala, was picked on by larger monkeys and has been seeking a new group of monkey friends.
But Morse couldn't talk very long about the monkey and where it might be heading.
His agency is dealing with a bigger, more pressing threat: the oil spill in the Gulf.
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