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Rich Fields

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First it was pythons, then it was iguanas… now it’s monkeys!

The state of Florida is quickly becoming the hot-spot for unwanted tropical wildlife. The latest problem comes from feral, herpes-infected monkeys that freely roam the northeast coast of Florida.

According to First Coast News, state regulators confirm a dozen sightings of Rhesus Macaque monkeys over the past eight months.

The Jacksonville ABC/NBC affiliate also reports that the most recent sightings of the Rhesus monkeys have been in the neighborhood of Julington Creek in Jacksonville. Yes, Jacksonville! Surprising to some because Jacksonville can get very cold for the state of Florida. Jacksonville can even experience freezing temperatures at times. Can these monkeys survive that kind of cold? As a matter of fact, yes! A relative of the Rhesus Macaque is another Macaque known as the Japanese Snow Monkey. So, monkeys ARE adaptable to frigid temps.

Take a look at this Youtube video from Jacksonville’s First Coast News…

They're here! Invasive, herpes-carrying monkeys reach the First Coast

State regulators confirm a dozen sightings of rhesus macaques over the past eight months -- the first time they've ever been reported in Northeast Florida.

University of Florida wildlife ecologist Dr. Steve Johnson is quoted as saying, “The potential ramifications are really dire. A big male like the one in that video in Jacksonville – that’s an extremely strong, potentially dangerous animal”.

It turns out that Rhesus monkeys were brought to Silver Springs State Park in the late 1930’s when a tour boat operator released six of them onto a manmade island as an airboat tourist attraction.

Believe it or not… there have also been sightings right here in Tampa. Not good. Herpes infected monkeys is NOT one of the charming things about nature. State officials need a plan to deal with the infected monkeys and their spread throughout Florida.

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Growing up, I had a Spider Monkey as a pet. His name was Chi-Chi and we had him for nearly a decade. So, I’ve always been a fan of monkeys. How about you?

Take a look at these other cute faces below. Don’t miss the very last picture… it’s an adorable baby gorilla.

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Rich Fields is a veteran radio broadcaster who is best known for having been the Announcer on the Price is Right. He is also an Emmy Award winning Meteorologist .