Monkey Mission: Dania Beach wild monkey colony finally has a sanctuary of their own

They’re spotted in neighborhoods and have even made it onto the tarmac at South Florida airports, but now a colony of wild monkeys is finally getting a new home. 7’s Brian Entin has our special report, “Monkey Mission.”

Early in the morning — and late in the afternoon — it’s a wild scene near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

It’s literally “monkey” hour — when the wild vervet monkeys come.

Tarnisha Parks, Dania Beach Vervet Project: “Oranges, raisins, bananas, apples. They even like tomatoes.”

They escaped from a zoo in Dania Beach back in 1948.

Dr. Missy Williams, a biologist, has been studying the colony of monkeys for six years.

Brian Entin: “Who are they?”

Dr. Missy Williams, Dania Beach Vervet Project: “This is Olivia, Amy, and this male is Pasquel.”

Brian Entin: “And everyone has a name?”

Dr. Missy Williams: “Absolutely, yes.”

The monkeys don’t bother anyone, but they do get themselves into trouble once in a while.

They have been spotted as far away as Aventura and even North Perry Airport. Within the last month, several monkeys were shocked and killed climbing on a utility pole.

Dr. Missy Williams: “What I think is happening is the males are going up to the top of the poles to survey the space, which is a male behavior, and they accidentally hit the wires when they jump up to the highest point.”

Dr. Williams has become increasingly worried for the monkeys’ safety. On top of the electrocutions, some have been hit by cars, and others have disappeared.

Dr. Missy Williams: “During the lockdown, I got a call from one of the employees down the road that a gentleman was out with a net trying to trap one of the monkeys and was chasing him through the trees on the side of the road there.”

But now, Dr. Williams has finally found a place to keep the monkeys safe.

Dr. Missy Williams: “This really is a safe place for them to go.”

Through her nonprofit Dania Beach Vervet Project, she leased 12 acres of land just east of the airport from Park n’ Fly.

Now, it’s a sanctuary for the monkeys.

Dr. Missy Williams: “I think this is a big turning point for them. Our research has indicated the population is in decline and at risk of going extinct, so this will provide a safe haven for the monkeys here.”

Priority number one is to get this monkey named Spock reunited with his family.

In February, he went missing from the colony. Dr. Williams later learned he was trapped by warehouse workers and ended up in a cage in Southwest Miami-Dade.

Spock will be moved to the sanctuary once a special enclosure is built for him.

An electric fence will keep the monkeys in and any people out. They also installed surveillance cameras that are now in use.

Dr. Missy Williams: “They have a small home range anyway, so they would not feel enclosed, but it would keep them from coming out into the parking lots and getting out into the streets where they can get into trouble.”

Dr. Williams is hoping to have the sanctuary fully up and running within the next year. If you would like to donate, click on the link below.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dania Beach Vervet Project

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