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VIDEO: Freedom monkey shows again, draws national attention

Tampa Bay Rhesus Monkey on the loose
This March 21, 2010 picture shows a monkey in the swimming pool enclosure of Renee Barth in St. Petersburg, Fla. Soon after falling into the pool, the monkey found its way out. Wildlife officials have been searching for an elusive monkey that's been in the Tampa Bay area for more than a year. (AP)

Pesky primate has been on run around Tampa Bay for a year

The little rhesus monkey that has been chasing freedom around the Tampa Bay area for more than a year now is fast becoming a national celebrity, and was seen most recently playing around a local resident pool on Sunday, March 21, 2010. The AP newswire continues to have dozens of outlets around the country publish the little primate's adventures, and he was a source of levity on The Colbert Report a couple of weeks back. Someone has even created a Facebook Fan Page for the poop-tosser.

Well, nobody has actually reported the freedom chaser chucking feces, but rhesus monkeys are renowned for this filthy behavior, and these animals can harbor numerous diseases harmful to humans, such as rabies, herpes (don’t ask me how) and hepatitis, and can be very aggressive if cornered. Experts suspect he was kicked out of a group of monkeys in a national forest northeast of Tampa or had been a private pet. Either way, he seems to thrive on his freedom.
And it doesn't look as if this guy is going to be cornered anytime soon, as trappers have been chasing him across hundreds of square miles in the past 14 months.

"He is an extremely intelligent monkey," said trapper Vernon Yates in an Associated Press report. "He is very, very street-wise. He knows to check traffic. He knows to look both ways so he doesn't get hit by cars. He knows to stay out of power lines."

In the same story, state wildlife officials warn that even though he looks cute and friendly, monkeys can be very dangerous.

"That animal is so much quicker and more powerful than people perceive," said Gary Morse, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "That monkey would absolutely tear an adult male up. People have no idea how fierce their bites would be."
On Sunday he was spotted hanging in a tree on the property of a St. Petersburg resident, Renee Barth. She reported that he was swinging from a tree, dropped into her pool, grabbed some grapefruit and took off.

Watch video of the Tampa Bay monkey on The Colbert Report:

 

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