HUDSON — State wildlife officials Thursday warned Hudson Beach residents about reports of a rhesus macaque on the loose.
Residents were urged to not approach or feed the monkey, and to secure their trash. The monkeys can be dangerous to humans, as experts say many carry the potentially deadly Herpes B virus that can be transmitted through bites, scratches or contact with bodily fluids.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it's uncertain how the monkey got there. The species is not native to Florida.
"Officials are asking members of the public who see the animal to call in with information so that we can protect public safety and continue to work toward a positive outcome," the agency said in a statement.
Anyone who spots the monkey is asked to immediately contact the Wildlife Alert Hotline toll-free at 1-888-404-3922.
Rhesus macaque sightings are not unheard of in Tampa Bay. The most famous monkey spent years gallivanting through the Lakewood Estates neighborhood of St. Petersburg. The so-called "Mystery Monkey" had a Facebook page until his capture in 2012. Named Cornelius by his captors, he now lives at Dade City's Wild Things zoo.