Researchers discover origins of Florida monkey colony
DANIA BEACH, Fla. [AP] – For 70 years, a colony of monkeys has lived and thrived in urban South Florida.
No one was exactly sure how the monkeys came to call the Sunshine State home — until now.
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University say they have traced the colony’s origins to the Dania Chimpanzee Farm. In 1948, there was a monkey escape from the farm, the South Florida SunSentinel reported Wednesday. Most of the monkeys were recaptured but not all of them.
The rest of them absconded to a mangrove swamp where their descendants live today. The FAU team said the colony currently numbers about 41.
The FAU researchers traced the monkeys’ genetics and concluded they were brought to Florida from Africa. The monkeys were sold mainly for medical and military research, The Associated Press reported.
While not native, residents of the Dania Beach area are very keen on keeping the monkeys protected.
“The community still loves them,” said Deborah “Missy” Williams, lead author of the study, who is in the FAU Biological Sciences Department. “They care for them. They want them protected.”
Williams has founded the Dania Beach Vervet Project to protect them and is trying to raise money to buy land to serve as a sanctuary.
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