We talked to some state conservation guys at breakfast the other day. When they heard we were riding our bikes inland through the Tate’s Hell state forest and the adjacent wildlife conservation areas, they gave us some advice: “Watch out for bears and monkeys.”
OK. That got our attention. We lived for a lot of years in areas with bears. Bears we understand. But monkeys?
“Yeah, they showed up over by Eastpoint in December,” said the state guys. Our waitress was pouring us coffee. “Yeah, and one of them is really mean,” she added before heading to another table.
We saw the state guys at breakfast the next day, too. We talked monkeys. They pulled out their phones and showed us pictures of the monkeys. Not cute little monkeys. These were big fellas with formidable teeth. They’d been seen in the nearby towns raiding fruit trees and bird feeders.
The story was that the monkeys had been on an island monkey sanctuary in the middle of a north Florida river. The idea was that monkeys don’t swim so they would stay put on the island. Apparently all the monkeys hadn’t been told that they couldn’t swim. So they jumped in the river and made their escape. Which gave us a new addition to Florida’s ever expanding list of exotic non-native wildlife. Like all the pythons in South Florida weren’t enough. Makes you wonder how far this thing could go.
We’ve seen a bunch of critters on our rides so far this week. Dolphins. Raccoons. Possums. The usual assortment of birds. A very friendly cat. All kinds of dogs (all friendly).
But no monkeys.
Always good to have something to look forward to.