Tampa Bay’s freedom-loving mystery monkey

Jason Kottke on his web log linked to a delightful New York Times article about a fugitive rhesus macacque in the Tampa Bay area.

At his desk, Yates unfolded a map of Tampa Bay.  But he found he had to flip the map over, then consult other maps, at different scales, to trace the macaque’s entire odyssey.  “It’s an amazing feat, when you think about his travels,” he said.  Since 2009, Yates estimates that he has gone after the animal on roughly 100 different occasions.  The monkey was his white whale. He claimed to have darted it at least a dozen times, steadily upping the tranquilizer dosage, to no avail.  The animal is too wily — it retreats into the woods and sleeps off the drug.  A few times, the monkey stared Yates right in the eye and pulled the dart out.

[…]

This is not the first time that monkeys have incited a minor populist uprising in Florida.  The population of wild rhesus macaques in the middle of the state — the tribe from which, the theory goes, the Mystery Monkey strayed — was established in the late 1930s by a New Yorker named Colonel Tooey. (Colonel was his first name.)  Tooey ran boat tours on the picturesque Silver River, a premier tourist destination.  A brazen showman, he wanted to ratchet the scenery up another notch.  So he bought a half-dozen macaques and plopped them on a small island. Macaques are strong swimmers; Tooey had no idea.  According to local lore, the animals were off the island within minutes.

Click on The freedom-loving mystery monkey of Tampa Bay to read the whole article, which is full of paragraphs like those.

Illustration by Chris Piascik.

Hat tip to kottke.org.

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