DANIA BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Two vervet monkeys have been reported missing from a Dania Beach colony by a researcher who studies them.
Una, a vervet monkey with one arm, belongs to a colony that has lived in the wooded area around Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for decades.
“She’s not shy,” biologist Dr. Missy Williams said. “She’s just very cautious. She will stay out on the fringes of the social group, but she is present. She is visible, so we do see her.”
Williams runs the Dania Beach Vervet Project and has been studying the monkeys for six years. About a week ago, she realized Una and her 6-week-old infant were missing.
“We come out every evening and do a head count,” Williams said. “Sometimes, the individuals, they just don’t come out, so you really don’t think much about it, but when you don’t see them two or three times in a row, then you become alarmed.”
What worries Williams the most is that Una and her infant may have been illegally trapped to be sold as pets.
“I think it’s absolutely horrifying,” Williams said. “She is a wild monkey born in the wild, and she has all this space, so to be removed from her social group and from a very familiar area and probably sitting in a cage is very terrifying for her.”
Una’s injury was likely the result of being caught in a snare trap in 2014.
“She actually self-amputated the arm and survived, which was an absolute miracle,” Williams said. “Then, she went on to give birth to her first infant that year, and we were very excited to see how well she would manage, and she did wonderfully. She’s a great mom.”
Williams hopes someone in the community with information on the monkeys’ disappearance will come forward.
“The idea of them being trapped in a cage and being used for profit, it’s terrible,” Williams said.
Williams said the best case scenario in this situation is Una and her baby, who is most likely clinging to her or staying close by, may be sick or injured.
She added that sometimes the monkeys tend to hide until they are feeling better, but it is unusual for them to stay away for this long.
The Vervet Project is offering a $1,000 reward for information that would lead them back to Una and her infant. If you have any information, contact the Vervet Project through their Facebook page.
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