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Spring is here and so are all of the babies that come with it --even the invasive ones. A group of feral rhesus macaques, a species of primate native to Asia, roam the Florida wilderness near Ocala and were recently spotted showing off their baby monkeys at Silver Springs State Park.
Facebook user Tanner Rice, who was at the spring on Saturday and Sunday, captured the moment while on his paddleboard and posted several photos to the public Facebook group "Unseen Florida" on Monday. The post has since been shared over 100 times.
You can see the post in full by clicking here.
While the monkeys may be cute, they, like many nonnative species, haven't been such a welcomed sight for local conservationists and health officials.
Though the primates have been here for over 80 years now, this particular species of macaque is known to carry a deadly form of herpes that can be spread to humans, and recent studies have suggested that the macaques have been breeding so rapidly that their population (estimated around 300 in 2018) could double by 2022. Population control has become a significant undertaking in recent years, with both removal and sterilization efforts currently in place.
When asked to estimate how many monkeys were seen during their weekend excursion, Rice suggested, "[it] seemed like over 100; they were everywhere from the waters edge into the forest." Rice recalled it being a "crazy experience."
Despite the public health concern, these primates and their babies remain to be one of the top tourist attractions in the area.