For years now, I have been visiting Silver Springs, Florida in search of the infamous Monkeys (Rhesus Macaques) that roam the area. I have heard multiple stories about people seeing them, and even seen some photos that have popped up here and there…but never laid eyes on them myself, until this past weekend.
As I arrived to the parking area, I thought to myself “I am starting to think these things don’t really exist. I have been here way too many times not to see them yet.” Even with many doubts of the monkeys existing, I hopped into the kayak and paddled off into the somewhat unknown. The kayak trip started as expected with lots of turtles and some alligators, which are always great to see, but I was there for something else.
After stopping to check out some alligators, it was time to move on. Now about an hour into the kayak adventure, I am starting to once again, have doubts. Moving along, I see someone up ahead in a kayak staring off onto land, as if they just saw a monkey! Sure enough, they did! We paddled up and parked next to the shoreline and gazed in pure amazement. There they were! After years of visits, I finally laid eyes on the infamous Silver Springs Monkeys! It was more exciting than I expected it to be.
At first, I thought there were only a few monkeys in this group, but as we sat longer and longer, we ended up seeing at least 10, maybe closer to 20 monkeys, chilled out, eating, checking me out, climbing around and playing. It was incredible!
How and why are their monkeys in Florida, you ask? I will explain:
They were brought to the area in the late 1930’s by a tour boat operator, known as “Colonel Tooey,” to enhance his “Jungle Cruise” ride. Little did he know, the monkeys can swim! Some of them wandered off and started new colonies, and some stayed in the area. Now it’s said that there are at least 5 colonies in the state, but are most commonly seen around Silver Springs state park.
This was one of the coolest things I have seen in this great state known as Florida!
Seek and enjoy.