Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Animal control workers capture Tampa Bay's Mystery Monkey

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — Elizabeth Fowler watched as a tranquilizer dart punctured the monkey's torso.

He stumbled across a creek and crawled up a low branch, where he swayed as the chemicals coaxed him into slumber.

Wildlife rescuers carried the monkey out of the woods and stowed him in a cage.

The Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay's nearly four-year run from wildlife officials was over Wednesday afternoon.

Three weeks earlier, Fowler had been bitten by the monkey, which prompted wildlife officials to intensify their search.

Fowler knew the monkey had to be caught. But like many neighbors, she had grown fond of him, and she was sad to see him go.

"I feel kind of guilty," Fowler, 60, said through tears.

The monkey's future is unclear. He was placed in quarantine Wednesday evening. If his health checks out, he could be sent to a sanctuary to be with other monkeys.

But the question remains: After thriving among humans for years, can he get along with his own kind?

• • •

The trappers arrived at Fowler's house near Lake Maggiore about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

They placed bananas in and around the cage that wildlife rescuer Vernon Yates had installed weeks ago to catch the monkey.

But the monkey never came. He watched them from a nearby roof.

About noon, Shannon Fowler, Elizabeth's daughter, arrived. She stood outside, waved a banana and made smooching sounds.

The monkey emerged from the woods and perched on a branch. He scampered toward the trap.

From inside the home through a sliding glass door, veterinarian Don Woodman pointed a dart rifle at the monkey and fired.

The dart hit the monkey. He crawled into the woods and pulled it out. Woodman and Yates gave chase and grabbed him with a catch pole. They shot him with a second dart.

Within a minute, the monkey was unconscious.

"It was nice to have done the job and done it well and done it smoothly," Woodman said.

Yates carried the 45-pound rhesus macaque out of the woods. Members of the Fowler family stroked the monkey's fur and said goodbye.

"It's not a joy," Shannon Fowler said. "It's bittersweet."

For more than a year, the monkey has watched the Fowlers through windows. He playfully swatted the family dog. He chased the kids across the lawn.

But the monkey's stay took a dark turn when he bit Elizabeth. Since then, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials have been on the lookout for him.

After the capture, Woodman and Yates gave the Mystery Monkey a new name: Cornelius, after a character in Planet of the Apes.

• • •

Late Wednesday afternoon, an unconscious Cornelius was sprawled inside a cage in the back of a car parked outside the Animal Hospital of Northwood in Safety Harbor.

Cornelius lay on his side, his chest heaving to a halting rhythm. His face was buried beneath a towel and several unopened bananas. His tiny hand lay loose and upturned by his side, like that of a sleeping baby.

Woodman, owner and veterinarian at the animal hospital, said Cornelius is in good physical health and, notably, free of fleas despite his sojourn in the wild.

"Clearly, he's grooming himself well," Woodman said.

Cornelius had minor abrasions from the dart wounds, but otherwise was unharmed.

But the monkey is overweight, Woodman said, attributing the extra pounds to junk food he was fed by humans.

"He's been well-fed in the sense that he's been getting a lot of calories, but not well fed in that he hasn't been eating a balanced diet," Woodman said.

The monkey will be placed in quarantine for 30 days at Yates' wildlife compound while he is tested for diseases. Yates said he is pretty certain Cornelius is disease-free.

He will be kept in a 6-by-10- foot, chain-link cage in sight of other animals — Yates said he currently has five monkeys at his property — but will not be free to mingle with them.

"It's going to be different for him," Yates said. "He's going to have to adjust."

The probability that the monkey will have to be euthanized is "next to zero" now that he has been captured, Yates said.

• • •

So what's next for Cornelius?

Martin, the FWC spokesman, said the monkey will likely go to a sanctuary in Florida to be with other monkeys; several have already expressed interest.

It's unclear if Cornelius, who appears to be about 5 years old and could live another 15, will get along with others. Some have speculated that he was forced out of a colony of monkeys in Silver Springs before launching his famous life on the lam.

"I'm sure he'll be delighted to see others of his own kind," said Yates.

Woodman said that while the public has cheered the monkey's evasive antics, the creature probably has been lonely.

"Envision the movie Castaway, with Tom Hanks — when he was so lonely that he formed a relationship with a volleyball," Woodman said. "Nobody said, 'Oh, yeah, but he's free.' "

Not everyone thinks it's so certain.

"He may have great problems or he may be able to reintegrate," said Dr. Agustin Fuentes, a primate expert at the University of Notre Dame.

Fuentes said a lot will depend on the facility where he is placed, the experience he had with other monkeys earlier in life and how other monkeys will react to him.

"I hope they do right by him and don't keep him in a cage by himself for too long," Fuentes said. "Hopefully, it will have a happy ending."

   
Comments
Jon Mott wins record fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Jon Mott wins record fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

By BOB PUTNAMCLEARWATER — The Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot has long been a fixture on Jon Mott’s sporting calendar. Not even a 103-degree fever Tuesday could keep him away from the event, in its 39th year. Mott, a record four-time 10k champion, added ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

TAMPA — In the jubilant moments after a Bucs win, Dirk Koetter will sometimes ask for a game-used ball from his equipment staff, hold it high in the locker room and present it to the player who was most crucial to the victory.NFL players can ask for ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

 
Updated: 4 hours ago

Updated: 4 hours ago
Woman killed in Largo motorcycle crash could ‘out-game any dude’

Woman killed in Largo motorcycle crash could ‘out-game any dude’

LARGO — Sydney Pender, 27, loved riding her motorcycle, even though she knew the dangers. Three years ago, her friend said, a delivery truck hit her. But she kept riding. On Thanksgiving, it was a crash with a taxi cab that killed her.Pender, a St. P...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Valrico intersection closed after car-sized hole opens in road

VALRICO — A hole the size of a vehicle opened up beneath the intersection of Nature’s Way Boulevard and Elm Grove Lane, Hillsborough officials said.The cause of the depression is unclear, but the intersection was blocked off to traffic.Hillsborough C...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

CLEARWATER — On Tuesday, Jon Mott had a 103-degree fever. That was not enough to keep him from maintaining his dominance Thursday at the 39th Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot.The former Northeast standout added to his record with his fifth title in the ev...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Update: Mother, toddler hit by car in critical condition at TGH

TAMPA — A mother and one of her two small children who were hit by a car while trying to cross Dale Mabry Highway on Wednesday were still in the hospital on Thanksgiving, according to Tampa General Hospital.Cassandra Marie Spicola, 29, and 18-month-o...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Pasco County put under immediate tornado warning

The National Weather Service has put out a tornado warning for Pasco County. Thunderstorms capable of producing a tornado and strong winds are expected over Jasmine Estates, New Port Richey and Hudson until 1:15 p.m., according to the NWS warning. Ba...
Published: 11/23/17
Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

It’s going to be a wet Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay, but sunny skies are coming during the long weekend, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Ric Kearbey. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10...
Published: 11/23/17