OCALA, Fla. — An Ocala man said monkeys from Silver Springs State Park have invaded his property.
Brian Pritchard lives four miles away from the park, but over the last few days his game camera has taken hundreds of photos of about 50 rhesus macaques eating from a deer feeder in his backyard.
Silver Springs State Park recently shut down two areas because of an increased monkey presence. A family visiting the state park last week recorded a video of the monkeys aggressively chasing them and showing their teeth.
Pritchard had put out a feeder with a camera to catch photos of deer, but instead, he got monkeys.
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The rhesus macaques climb up the stand of the feeder and spin the plate to send out enough corn to feed the whole troop.
“They’re vicious. They’re extreme. I mean, they get extremely nasty,” Pritchard said.
The animals have taken more than 250 pounds of deer food in the last few days.
“Obviously the monkeys have it down pat. They don’t have to wait on it. They climb up the poles and they just sit there and spin it off the plate,” Pritchard said.
Researchers estimate 200 non-native macaques live at the park and said many carry the deadly herpes B virus.
Pritchard is convinced hundreds more of the animals are in the area.
“I was standing there, looking out that window and I caught a glimpse of something,” said Pritchard. “I looked and there were 15 of them that came out and they were everywhere. But they kept looking like they could see or hear me in that shed.”
He and his family plan to move into the home on the property next week, and Pritchard hopes the animals don’t get too comfortable with his children around.
“As long as they don’t bother me or my kids, I’m not going to bother them,” he said.
Pritchard said his friend lives another 20 miles from his property and saw about 30 monkeys looking for food.