Monkeys near Florida Airport delight visitors

Dania Beach, Florida — An aging vervet monkey planted a mangrove branch and injured an ego in the woods near an airport in South Florida one recent afternoon as the departing jet liner barked overhead.

Called a human observer, Mikey was a laid-back alpha man in the army of monkeys who ruled the land, hiding in a crowded runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. However, on this day, he was challenged and lost by a healthy young man called Spike. Mikey screamed and ran away, staring at the person looking at him from a distance of 15 feet (4 meters).

“Did you have a bad day?” Asks Deborah “Missy” Williams, a science professor at Lynn University who has been studying nearby troops since 2014.She also Dania Beach Velvet Project, Trying to save this unique colony. “We leave you alone so you can ponder.”

There are no native monkeys in the United States, but small velvets have been roaming Dania Beach since the late 1940s after a dozen brought from West Africa fled the now closed breeding facilities and roadside zoos. Today, 40 descendants are divided into four troops living within 1,500 acres (600 hectares) around the airport. There are also some macaque and squirrel monkey colonies that have escaped in Florida.

Florida wildlife authorities often kill invasive species to protect native animals. But if they remain in place, they tolerate velvet. Monkeys are local celebrities, their hardships detailed on television and newspapers, and popular visitors to nearby workers, feeding them despite signs of being illegal. I am giving.

“My friend said,’Do you have a monkey in your job? Some ate from her hands, others robbed her of the food she had scattered.

Travelers are often surprised to see monkeys. They happily scream and pick up their cell phones in anticipation of a photo. Velvet is a greenish shade of gray and black that helps blend into the wood. Men usually grow to 2 feet (0.6 meters) and 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms). Women reach 18 inches (0.5 meters) and 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). They have lived for about 20 years.

The caldera and her colleagues protect monkeys that are not afraid of humans and prevent anyone from catching or injuring them. “I never know what people do,” she said.

The entrance to 16 acres (6.5 hectares) dominated by Mikey, the patriarch, Snow White, and their army are behind the parking lot and sealed with a locked fence. Mangrove trees are thick and trails are muddy — except where they are covered in shallow water.

Williams began and continued his studies of monkeys while earning a PhD from Florida Atlantic University. An army of 16 members approached when she and her guests sneaked deep into the monkey grounds last afternoon. Colonies inhabit spiders, ants, lizards, seeds and flowers.

“They quickly learn to adapt to the human diet — they love sweets and salty foods,” Williams said, pointing out that they endure human food very well.

In Africa, velvet is eaten by leopards, eagles and snakes. But in Florida, the danger is outside the mangrove. Mainly sold as pets by cars and trap hunters.

Due to the small population of Williams, we are concerned that inbreeding can harm the health of monkeys. In Africa, a male vervet monkey leaves the birth force when he is sexually mature at the age of five and joins another male. They move again every few years. With only four local troops, there are not enough shifts between men and the gene pool is small.

Because monkeys are an invasive species, Florida imposes strict restrictions on how Williams’ groups can help monkeys. Trapped monkeys cannot be released — they must be euthanized or kept in captivity.

Williams does not believe that monkeys should be pets, so he does not seek the care of a seriously injured or sick monkey veterinarian in the hope that nature will heal them. However, her group is building an enclosure for velvet captured for treatment or because they wandered too far.

Ultimately, Williams wants to allow the release of the velvet captured in Florida. Unlike Burmese pythons, iguanas, and other invasive species, she claims that colonies do not harm the environment.

“Whether the monkey is a non-native or native species, the life of the monkey is important,” she said. “All options need to be exhausted to avoid euthanasia.” Her model shows that if there is no change, the colony will disappear within 50 years.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission replied that colonies can remain, but there are no exceptions that allow the release of monkeys after capture because the impact on the ecosystem is “not well understood.”

“There is also a risk of injury when dealing with wildlife. Monkeys can act defensively and can bite and scratch. Mammals, including vervet monkeys, are diseases that are transmitted to humans, including mad dog disease. You may have a problem with it. “

As the darkness approached, the army moved from the mangrove to the airport parking lot. It’s dinner time, with seeds to pick and a worker’s treat to get. Some played while others cared for each other. Spike and Mikey fought again before Williams’ warning pulled them apart. The old king and his heirs then sat off and stared carefully at each other.

Soon full, the monkey returned to the tree and spent another night in an unexpected territory, paying no attention to the large metal birds flying over it.

Monkeys near Florida Airport delight visitors

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