TAMPA — The search for the mysterious monkey spotted in east Tampa is over, but the creature is still on the loose.
The primate, believed to be part of the macaque family, was spotted up a tree about 11 a.m. Wednesday in a residential community near E Sligh Avenue and N 30th Street, said Gary Morse, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Officials first checked with nearby Lowry Park Zoo, but all of those monkeys were safe and sound, said zoo spokeswoman Rachel Nelson.
Then they took to the streets, trying to catch the creature as it roamed near Rowland Park. Officials first thought it may have been a large squirrel or raccoon, but they soon confirmed that this was a primate on the lam.
The search ended about 5:30 p.m. when officials lost sight of the monkey. It seemed best just to let it go.
"It's a fruitless effort to go looking for it," Morse said. "It's like looking for a needle in a haystack."
Morse said anyone who sees the animal should call the commission's hotline at 1-888-404-3922.
The monkey is probably not dangerous to people, mostly because it won't get near anybody, Morse said. But that doesn't mean its safe to approach if you see it.
The macaque family of monkeys is known to often carry Hepatitis B. Plus, they've got sharp teeth and may attack if threatened.
"Don't feed it," Morse said. "It'll bite."
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