Following four years of freedom, the local celebrity known as the “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” was captured. After being cast out of a colony by his primate peers, the rhesus macaque began making headlines around St. Petersburg in 2009. He frequented the home of 60-year-old Shannon Fowler, where he often chased the kids, slap boxed with the family dog, and observed the family through their home’s windows.
On October 10th, Mystery Monkey revealed his darker side by delivering a swift and unexpected chomp to Mrs. Fowler’s back. The unprovoked attack intensified the search by wildlife officials. After professional trappers had failed for years to lure him into custody, Fowler’s daughter succeeded with a much more obvious approach: waving a banana and making smooching sounds. Mystery Monkey soon found a tranquilizing dart stuck in his back, care of animal hospital owner Don Woodman. The shot packed enough juice to take down a Buccaneer linebacker, yet Mystery Monkey managed to remove the dart from his own back, taunting Mr. Woodman. The impact of a second dart induced the stumbling, swaying, and eventual snooze as a distraught Mrs. Fowler watched on with bittersweet feelings. With tears of guilt, the Fowler family stroked their familiar friend’s fur and said their farewells.
After attaining nearly 90,000 fans on his official Facebook page and even making it to the Colbert Show in 2010, Mystery Monkey finally received an appropriate official name: Cornelius (based on the human-sympathizing chimp from 1968’s Planet of the Apes). If his time in quarantine proves that he is healthy and fit for monkey society, he will likely be placed in a simian sanctuary. Here, Cornelius will face his biggest challenge yet: trading the years of Oreo cookies and solitude for a proper diet and a gang of female monkeys to terrorize. It remains uncertain how the ladies will react to the new mouthful of bad teeth and the extra weight Cornelius gained while living the casual American lifestyle.