Some people commenting in the media wonder if the latest #monkey business relates to the new film “War for the Planet of the Apes.” While it is unlikely promoters have gone this far in pushing the new film, troops of non-native #rhesus macaques in Silver Springs State Parks are currently going wild. Meanwhile, neighbors are also having problems from the macaques, who seem to be straying further afield.

Walking areas close due to rhesus macaques

As reported by ABC News, two walking areas in the popular state park have been closed due to unwarranted and dangerous monkey interactions with visitors. Officials have had to close a boardwalk and an observation deck as the rhesus macaques have taken over.

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The river at #Silver Springs State Park is a popular spot for tourists and kayakers, but is now becoming dangerous, due to the rhesus macaques that live along its banks. The assistant director of Florida State Parks, Matt Mitchell, recently said rangers are checking for monkey activity in areas of the park on a daily basis. According to researchers around 150 to 200 of the wild macaques live in the park, along with an unknown number living outside its boundaries.

Monkey attacks in the park

After a video was posted of a family encountering what looks like aggressive monkeys on one of the boardwalks, the park decided it was wise to close certain areas. Patrols have been increased where there are likely to be monkey-human interactions. Visitors are warned by park rangers not to feed the macaques and not to look them in the eye, as that is a sign of aggression to the monkeys.

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Six monkeys introduced in the 1930s as a tourist attraction

Rhesus macaques are not native to the area and were reportedly introduced by a tour boat operator in the 1930s. Colonel Tooey, the operator in question, thought it a good idea to release six of the macaques on an island in the Silver River, which he named Monkey Island to draw more tourism to the area.

According to ABC, Eben Kirksey, an Australian professor of environmental humanities, said Tooey believed the monkeys would stay on the island, but it turns out macaques are good swimmers. With a shortage of natural predators in the area, besides alligators in the river itself, the macaques thrived and quickly grew in numbers. Reportedly at one stage the park even sold monkey food and allowed tourists to feed the macaques.

Back in the 1980s, the population had grown to around 400 macaques which led to state officials trying to control the situation. A number of the female monkeys were sterilized and culling attempts were made, which attracted strong opposition from local residents.

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Locals also objected when some of the captured monkeys were sold on to research labs.

Park officials mull the best method of controlling the macaques

As reported by Enca, with all the monkey business going on, officials are considering what the best options are to control the macaques, especially with videos going viral online showing monkey attacks. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are getting involved and are also monitoring the macaques.

Macaques steal 250 pounds of deer food from a neighbor

According to the Tampa Bay Times, one local in Ocala has been invaded by a group of the monkeys from the park. Brian Pritchard, 33, who lives around four miles from the park, caught the macaques raiding his deer feeders. He had set up cameras to photograph deer, but got a variety of images of thieving monkeys instead. Pritchard estimates there are around 50 monkeys on his property every morning at 7 a.m., ready to eat, and they know exactly what to do to get the food.

According to Pritchard, the macaques have so far consumed 250 pounds of deer food since arriving on his property. According to Pritchard, the troop of macaques appears to be both aggressive and organized as they steal the deer food. One monkey even found his automatic camera, which is fixed to a tree near the feeder and gave Pritchard a full frame selfie, while other monkeys could be seen cavorting around in the background.

Pritchard told the Tampa Bay Times that anyone who lives on the river has the possibility of seeing the macaques. A friend of his lives 20 miles from the park and has a troop of around 30 monkeys on his property too. However Pritchard added that as long as no one bothers the monkeys, they won’t bother you.