A pack of 15 monkeys have escaped from a wildlife facility in Polk County, sparking a massive search for the animals, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
When Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gary Morse answered his phone today, he immediately knew the topic.
“The monkey business,” he said. “As far as I know, there are several teams out looking for this group of monkeys.”
The monkeys, 11 adults and 4 juveniles, somehow got out of a permitted wildlife facility that belongs to Lex Salisbury, the CEO of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
“They are his personal pets,” Morse said.
Officials urge community members not to panic about the monkeys. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has sent out a reverse 911 call to alert residents who might have missed all the fuss about the escape.
The monkeys, called Patas monkeys, are harmless to humans. The monkeys natural habitat is in arid climates in Africa. They are social, but ususally docile animals who move quickly and travel in groups, Morse said.
Apparently, the monkeys jumped off their home on an island at the wildlife area and swam across a pond, something they are not supposed to be able to do, Morse said.
“They are absolutely no threat to people,” Morse said.
What to do if you see the missing Patas monkeys?
Don’t approach them. Call the Fish and Wildlife’s hotline: 1-888-404-3922. –tb