Herpes-Infected Monkeys on the Loose in Florida

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It sounds like something out of a Tara Reid movie, but Florida is being terrorized by wild monkeys. Wild, herpes-infected monkeys.

Hundreds of these things are reportedly running wild in Florida after a tour guide brought them to the state long ago.

Wildlife officials say that three pairs of Rhesus monkeys were transported to the Silver River Wildlife Park near Ocala in the 1930s by tour guide operator Colonel Tooey after he watched a “Tarzan” film and became fascinated with the creature, according to the New York Post.

Wanting to promote his jungle tours, Tooey wanted to capitalize on the success of the 1939 film “Tarzan Finds a Son,” according to the Daily Mail.

But decades later, the seemingly innocent action has state officials concerned for public safety after the monkeys have multiplied in population. There are more than a thousand of Rhesus monkeys living in the state.

State officials say they have caught more than 700 of the monkeys in the past decade, many of them that tested positive for the herpes-B virus.

The virus is “extremely rare in humans,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, but when infection does occur, it can become fatal if not treated soon after exposure.

The monkeys are now considered a public health hazard.

Current Silver River tour operator Captain Tom O’Lenick, spoke with the New York Post and defended the transportation of those animals because people love them.

“Everybody who comes on the river four a tour wants to see the monkeys,” O’Lenick said.

While no incidents between the Rhesus monkeys and humans have been reported, British wildlife photographer Graham McGeorge warns the public that “just like any other wild animal you need to give them space.”

Sources: New York Post, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Daily Mail