After nearly three years of elusiveness, the so-called “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” was caught Wednesday in the Lakewood Estates area of St. Petersburg.
A tranquilizer dart from a veterinarian ended the nearly three-year search for the rhesus macaque in St. Petersburg, where the monkey reached cult status and residents grew so accustomed to him they fed him food.
But the monkey turned violent and showed signs of aggression by flaunting his teeth and lunging himself at people, according to the Tampa Tribune.
Veterinarian Don Woodman told the paper it was only a matter of time before the “Mystery Monkey Of Tampa Bay” would be caught.
"It was predictable that he was going to become emboldened,'' Woodman said. “It was predictable that people were going to feed him. We did predict it. It was predictable that he was going to attack somebody.''
In a recent attack in St. Petersburg, the “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” jumped on resident Betsy Fowler and bit her in the back, leading the woman to get a rabies shot, according to the Tampa Tribune.
But Fowler harbored no ill will toward the mystery monkey.
“"I was worried because their last resort was going to be to put the monkey down; we didn't want to see that,'' she told the paper. "Because he is lonely.''
Fowler’s fear that the mystery monkey would be euthanized turned out not to be the case, as the rhesus macaque’s future will be at an animal rescue shelter, wildlife officials told the Tribune.
A St. Petersburg resident who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Shannon, said she spotted the mystery monkey several times in her neighborhood.
"It wasn't unusual to come out here, have my cup of coffee, see him sitting just a few yards away from me," she told My Fox Tampa Bay.
Shannon said an animal rescue shelter is the most appropriate place for the mystery monkey to live out the rest of his days.
"It's sweet that he can now be in a sanctuary and be with its own species," she said.
The monkey’s antics in St. Petersburg spurred the creation of a “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” Facebook page that has garnered more than 87,000 likes.
After the monkey’s capture, the supervisors of the Facebook Page wrote as if they were the rhesus macaque.
“Today my freedom has been taken away from me,” they wrote Wednesday.