TAMPA — Wildlife officials want the public's help in trying to find a monkey that apparently has been roaming yards in Apollo Beach and Parrish.
The monkey on the loose is probably a rhesus macaque — the same as Cornelius, the so-called Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay that roamed the area for about four years before being captured in 2012.
The species often carries herpes B. Infection of the B virus is rare in humans but can be fatal when it does occur, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It's much better off for the animal and for the environment if we could capture it and put it with some of its own kind," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary Morse.
Several residents of the MiraBay community in Apollo Beach reported spotting the monkey there, including Fox 13 photojournalist Corey Beckman, according to WTVT-Ch. 13.
The monkey is likely from Silver Springs near Ocala — the same place as Cornelius, now at Dade City's Wild Things — said Vernon Yates, director of Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation.
He said reports of a monkey in Apollo Beach began several weeks ago. Then came sightings in Parrish, and then back in Apollo Beach. It is likely the same monkey, Yates said, based on Cornelius' journey that took him from Hudson to Clearwater, then Temple Terrace and eventually to St. Petersburg.
"We basically just have to wait for a time, just like Cornelius the Mystery Monkey, until he settles down and decides where he wants to live," Yates said. "Then we'll have a better chance to catch him."
Anyone who spots it is urged to call the FWC toll-free at 1-888-404-3922 or Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation at (727) 399-1525.