Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In search of companionship, Mystery Monkey finds himself

A young rhesus macaque has lived free for more than a year and has gained fame as the “mystery monkey.” This snapshot was taken at midmorning on Monday near 56th Avenue S and west of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street in St. Petersburg.

Photo by Don McBride

A young rhesus macaque has lived free for more than a year and has gained fame as the “mystery monkey.” This snapshot was taken at midmorning on Monday near 56th Avenue S and west of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street in St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay area's elusive mystery monkey appears to have finally found a friend:

It's himself.

Former St. Petersburg Times employee Don McBride saw the young male rhesus macaque, which has been on the loose for more than a year, and photographed the monkey gazing into a mirror in the Pinellas Point area. The monkey was in his neighbor's backyard near 56th Avenue S and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, McBride said.

"He had been here once before," McBride said. "I saw him in my rear window staring back at me, eating out of the bird feeder."

McBride saw the monkey again on Labor Day. The macaque — who has been seen in various parts of Pasco, Hills­borough and Pinellas counties — appeared to be staring into a cube with mirrors on all sides.

"My neighbors who used to own the house were artists, and they sold their house to artists," McBride said. "They've had that thing in their yard, and we never really knew what it was supposed to be."

The monkey appeared to drawn to it — or rather, to his own reflection in it — Monday morning.

No one really knows where the monkey came from, though theorists think he could have been cast out by a wild troop of macaques in Ocala, or perhaps he was someone's pet. Wildlife experts believe the monkey craves companionship and has been seeking a fellow monkey friend.

His random appearances throughout south Pinellas County neighborhoods have propelled his stardom, capturing the attention of the national media, Comedy Central's Colbert Report and tens of thousands of Facebook fans.

Though once a symbol of free, frolicking monkey fun, the latest captured image suggests that, sadly, the monkey is desperately lonely.

Dr. Agustín Fuentes, a University of Notre Dame anthropology professor who studies monkeys that live in cities, was fascinated when he saw the photo Tuesday.

"There's huge debate about whether or not monkeys know what they're seeing when they look in the mirror," Fuentes said. "Do they know it's themselves? Probably not. Do they know they're looking at some sort of reflection of something? Unclear."

Regardless, he said, "if something looks monkey-ish, he'd be attracted to it."

Fuentes did at least have some good news for monkey fans.

He noted the extra fur on the monkey's upper arms. A consistent color pattern on his back. No splotches on his face.

In other words, Fuentes said, the monkey looks extremely healthy, if not a little forlorn.

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8452.

In search of companionship, Mystery Monkey finds himself 09/07/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 7:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Missouri governor halts man's execution after DNA questions

    Nation

    ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens halted Tuesday's scheduled execution of condemned killer Marcellus Williams after DNA raised questions about his guilt.

    This February 2014 photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Marcellus Williams. [Missouri Department of Corrections via AP]
  2. Killings put spotlight on possible neo-Nazi threat

    Nation

    TAMPA — The friendship of the four young roommates — though cemented in the dark trappings of an obscure neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division — never seemed destined for bloodshed.

    This undated photo provided by Kianna Kaizer, shows  Jeremy Himmelman and his girlfriend Kianna Kaizer. Himmelman was fatally shot along with his friend Andrew Oneschuk, 18, by a roommate in the Tampa apartment the men all shared.  [AP photo]
  3. Fire at Wesley Chapel home leads to discovery of marijuana plants

    Fire

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A fire that broke out Monday at a Wesley Chapel home led to the discovery of a room with marijuana plants, the Pasco Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Kriseman gets 2nd police union endorsement

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman is already backed by the city's largest police union, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has secured another police union endorsement
  5. Vision Zero strategy for safer Hillsborough roads: repaint, narrow lanes, educate

    Transportation

    TAMPA — What would it take to eliminate all traffic deaths in the county that has the most of them?

    Josephine Winiarz, left, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, center, help paint a bike lane on the Bullard Parkway Bridge in Temple Terrace in April. Brighter lanes to make motorists more aware are among the solutions developed to cut pedestrian fatalities [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]