Family of monkeys spotted in Fruitland Park

- Residents living in a the Lake County community of Fruitland Park say they have a family of monkeys hanging out, and say they have been there for years. 

A population of monkeys native to Asia appears to be spreading in central Florida, according to researchers.

Just last month, there was a sighting of a Rhesus monkey in the Orlando suburb of Apopka. The monkey was seen at the Max and Me Jamaican Bakery on Michael Gladden Blvd. 

According to those in Fruitland Park, a family of Rhesus monkeys have moved in just off of Watersedge Drive. 

Melva Unger once worked for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and lives right next a walkway that leads out to the Dead River, which leads into Lake Griffin, where the monkeys hang out.

She says recent claims by a neighbor that the monkey scratched him can't be true, but now she's worried about all the attention the family of macaques are getting.

"I am very frustrated! If the monkey was aggressive, I would say he needs to go!  But the same people that are claiming he's aggressive are the same people that come down here and feed him!" she said. 

FWC Spokesman Greg Workman confirms some folks are feeding the monkeys, and after they got a complaint last Thursday, they issued this warning to residents: do not approach or feed the monkeys as they carry diseases.  

If residents spot a monkey, they should call the FWC Orlando Dispatch Center at 1-888-404-3922.  

For more than 75 years, rhesus macaques have inhabited Silver Springs State Park in Ocala.  That population had grown to roughly 200 monkeys in the park by late 2015, according to University of Florida biologists.   New sightings have been reported miles away in Lake, Orange, and Volusia counties.

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