Florida State Park Infested With Monkeys That Carry Sexually Transmitted Infections

Tourists at a large nature park in Florida have been warned about a troupe of monkeys with sexually transmitted infections that are running riot through the area.

Yep, there’s a lot going on in that sentence, isn’t there?

It’s a serious issue, though. One kayaker in the lovely natural attraction saw a number of the rhesus macaque monkeys plunging into the river before his eyes.

Silver Springs State Park in Orlando is home to a large number of invasive monkeys that have actually been resident – and causing havoc – in Florida for almost 100 years.

The latest incident occurred as Rod Guynn was simply paddling his boat down the river, minding his own business, presumably looking at the lovely surroundings.

You’d have to imagine that a group of rhesus macaques plummeting from a nearby tree into the river fair shattered that peace and tranquillity for him.

Anyway, the Springs State Park is thought to be home to as many as 300 of the beasts, who live amongst the extensive greenery it provides.

Here's a few rhesus macaques. Credit: PA
Here’s a few rhesus macaques. Credit: PA

They are thought to have been left behind by a now defunct attraction called Colonel Tooey’s Jungle Cruise back in around 1930.

The attraction – which was situated within the park – shut down, but the monkeys stuck around.

Colonel Tooey himself left the creatures on an island in the middle of the river, assuming that they couldn’t swim and therefore could not escape.

It seems he was badly mistaken.

In fact, the monkeys have not only made it off the island, but have been making fairly regular excursions out of the park into the areas of The Villages, Tampa, and Apopka.

Despite the fact that they’re only small and quite cute, the monkeys do represent a public health hazard.

Silver Springs State Park is a popular Florida attraction. Credit: PA
Silver Springs State Park is a popular Florida attraction. Credit: PA

The monkeys are carriers of sexually transmitted diseases such as Herpes B. If humans are infected with that, it can cause brain damage and even death if not treated.

Obviously, it isn’t just sexually transmitted, otherwise the advice to stop the problem would be fairly simple.

However, it is transmitted by saliva.

Don’t worry too much, though. No such contamination between human and monkey has ever happened.

That doesn’t mean that the park’s officials aren’t worried about it, though.

A study conducted by The Wildlife Society last month found that as the number of monkeys increases, so does the risk of infection to humans as a result of the diseases that they carry.

Around 25 per cent of Silver Spring’s monkeys carry Herpes B, according to a report by the Center for Disease Control.

The local authorities in Florida have expressed a desire to get shut of the primates once and for all, but have – as yet – released no concrete information about when or how they plan to do that.

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