I hope that this post is not in any way relevant to you. But if you, like me, live in NW St. John’s County, you know exactly what I am talking about: Monkey Invasion 2020. It’s on the news, it’s on Nextdoor, it’s on alllll the local Facebook groups. It’s official, these monkeys are here and they bring with them a legitimate threat. A brief history of our new neighbors: they stem from a small pack of monkeys brought to Florida in the 1930s by the owner of Silver Springs Park. A popular tourist attraction, what started as 6 monkeys imported from Asia has grown to several hundred monkeys at the latest count (a conservative estimate as far as I can tell). Apparently Rhesus Macaques (their full “Instagram official” monkey name) are not as afraid of humans as other animals are and can become violent when confronted by humans. Another fun fact: these monkeys can carry a rare strain of herpes (B). It is very rarely spread from monkeys to human but when it does happen, it can be deadly.
The Rhesus Resistance
So a few days ago my son and his buddies on the block asked to go build a fort in the woods. “Ok kid, how fun! Sounds good, I need to catch up on Below Deck anyway and also be sure to watch out for poison ivy and oh, waaiiit…umm that’s probably not a good idea right now?” Because we have had actual monkey sightings in our neighborhood and I didn’t know yet if they were a real danger, I err’ed on the side of caution. It was time for an appointment with my sweet friend, Dr. Google.
OK, I’m not in any way trying to be fearmongering. In the same way that the risk of the coronavirus is ridiculously minuscule compared to the flu for an average American, I know that my personal risk of killer attack by macaque is small. (Sidenote- any truly crazy virus out there should not be named after a Mexican beer, IMO.) Anywho, I just wanted to know how to defend myself if I somehow stumble across an evil version of Curious George when I’m trying to grab my mail.
Monkey Protection 101
Initially, when researching our monkey invaders I read this article. I had my children prepared to bop monkeys on the head with a stick if confronted. But that article was about city monkeys. What is lurking in those much-desired preserve lots we paid extra for are not city monkeys. Yet. Somehow I can perfectly picture monkeys straight chillaxin’ on St. George Street. I digress.
OK, actually what you should do if confronted by a monkey is simple. Keep your distance. Avoid eye contact and hide those pearly whites. What seems like a friendly smile to you is an act of aggression to them. Don’t feed them or try to take pictures of them. Show them your open palms to indicate that you don’t have any food. If a monkey does attack try to stay calm. Ha! For real though, stay calm, don’t show fear and don’t fight back. Monkeys lose interest pretty quickly if you don’t have what they’re looking for (food).
Hopefully, this brief guide on monkey safety will protect us all as we navigate these interesting times. With the alligators, killer snakes, sharks, bears and flying cockroaches, there is never a dull moment living in Florida. Stay safe my friends!