Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Many residents say Mystery Monkey needs to go

ST. PETERSBURG — For about two years, the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay has dropped by unannounced at several homes near Lake Maggiore.

He ate handouts, napped on patios, looked through windows. The neighbors and the monkey learned to get along.

But that sentiment changed Monday when the monkey bit a 60-year-old woman.

Now, most residents say, he needs to go.

"I hate to say this, but it was bound to happen," Jeffrey Seilbach said.

Wildlife officials think the biting incident occurred because some neighbors fed the monkey.

"When people choose to feed wildlife in their neighborhood, very often it's the neighbors that end up suffering the consequences," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary Morse.

The monkey resides in an area of tall trees and overgrown bushes near Country Club Way S. When the branches rattle loudly, neighbors know he's there.

He also likes back yards.

At Seilbach's home, the monkey has climbed a tree and broken a screen around the pool. Seilbach won't take his cat outside.

"I don't know if it was the monkey that did it," he said, "but one cat is gone."

Jim Swartz, 74, said he noticed several weeks ago that the bird feeder outside his screened patio was broken. Swartz repaired it. A few days later, as he and his wife ate lunch on the patio, the monkey returned. He sat on the ground and ate birdseed littering the ground. Then he looked up at the feeder. Swartz waved his arms and shooed the monkey away.

"The problem is they are not indigenous to this area," Swartz said. "He's not in a community, and I think these animals are just like humans. They need a community."

The monkey also takes trips to the nearby St. Petersburg Country Club, where he sometimes observes golfers.

Jim Hulett, 45, has seen him twice. On Tuesday, while golfing with a friend, Hulett saw the monkey perched on a fence, staring into space.

"It looked like it was contemplating life," Hulett said. "He definitely looked lonely. How terrible it must be to have nobody around."

The trap rescuers set near the victim's house remained empty Thursday except for a bag of fruit and sandwiches.

It's unlikely the monkey will be captured, said University of Notre Dame primate expert Agustin Fuentes, in part because he has had experience escaping before.

The monkey returned to the victim's house Thursday morning. He stared at the cage and the food.

Minutes later, he was gone.

Wildlife officials may explore other options to catch the monkey, including bringing in a female macaque.

If the monkey is eventually trapped and taken to a sanctuary, he may have trouble socializing with his kind because he has lived alone for years, Fuentes said.

If he isn't caught, the monkey could live peacefully among humans — if no one feeds him.

"That is 100 percent the key," Fuentes said.

Many residents say Mystery Monkey needs to go 10/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Manhattan Casino controversy resumes after taking a break for Irma

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration has once again found itself defending its controversial choice of the Callaloo Group to open a "Floribbean" restaurant in the historic but currently empty Manhattan Casino.

  2. At Menorah Manor, planning paid off during Irma

    Nursing Homes

    ST. PETERSBURG — Doris Rosenblatt and her husband, Frank, have lived in Florida all of their lives, so they know about hurricanes.

    Raisa Collins, 9, far left, works on a craft project as Certified Nursing Assistant Shuntal Anthony holds Cassidy Merrill, 1, while pouring glue for Quanniyah Brownlee, 9, right, at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15. To help keep its patients safe during Hurricane Irma, Menorah Manor allowed employees to shelter their families and pets at the nursing home and also offered daycare through the week. The facility was able to accommodate and feed everyone who weathered the storm there. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. Carlton: The cross atop the church that moved, and other strange tales from Hurricane Irma


    Down in Miami, the famous tan-don't-burn Coppertone Girl on the side of a building lost her head — part of it, at least, the top of her blond hair lopped off in the fierce winds of Hurricane Irma. ("At least her tan line and doggie weathered the storm," the Miami Herald noted optimistically.)

    Hurricane Irma partly decapitated the Coppertone Girl in Miami. [Miami Herald]
  4. After Irma, nursing homes scramble to meet a hard deadline

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's nursing homes and assisted-living facilities find themselves in an unfamiliar place this week — pushing back against Gov. Rick Scott's administration over new rules that require them to purchase generator capacity by Nov. 15 to keep their residents safe and comfortable in a power …

    In this Sept. 13 photo, a woman is transported from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills as patients are evacuated after a loss of air conditioning due to Hurricane Irma in Hollywood. Nine have died and patients had to be moved out of the facility, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation to figure out what went wrong and who, if anyone, was to blame. [Amy Beth Bennett | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP]