For six weeks, Cornelius, once known as the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay, had been staying at a Seminole facility owned by wildlife rescuer Vernon Yates.
Given custody of the monkey by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Yates on Monday drove Cornelius to Dade City’s Wild Things, a 22-acre zoo in Pasco County holding more than 250 animals.
After nearly four years of eluding trappers and wildlife officials across Tampa Bay, Cornelius finally has a home.
“Of all the animals I’ve chased in my 60 years of life,” Yates said, “he’s been extremely intelligent.”
Upon arriving, Cornelius ate corn on the cob, green beans and peanuts, then wandered around his chain-link cage.
The journey still isn’t over for Cornelius. He will be alone until a suitable mate can be found.
“To me, this is like three-quarters of the way completed,” said his veterinarian, Don Woodman.
Cornelius’ new home is equipped with a blue ball dangling from a chain, a wooden perch and a red swing that slings across the cage.
Because he tested positive for herpes B during his quarantine period, a virus common in macaques but potentially fatal to humans, zoo officials must take extra precautions.
The floor of the cage was covered in cement for easy cleanup. Next to the cage is a wooden shed containing Haz-Mat gear, including rubber boots and a face mask, that workers must use when entering Cornelius’ quarters. A glass panel was erected at the front of the cage so visitors can safely observe.
“He can still have a life,” said zoo director Kathy Stearns. “A good life, just a little different life.”
Cornelius is also part of a “riding tour” of the zoo, though walkers won’t have access to that part of the facility.
Yates said he decided to hand Cornelius over to Dade City’s Wild Things because officials there expressed interest in the macaque when he was first seen about four years ago.
Earlier this year when Cornelius was captured, several facilities wanted him.
“But in my opinion,” Yates said, “they wanted him because of the fame. … I didn’t want him to go to some facility where they would use him for publicity.”
Cornelius was caught Oct. 24 in a St. Petersburg neighborhood near Lake Maggiore after being shot with tranquilizer darts. His capture came about three weeks after he bit a 60-year-old woman outside her home.
Woodman, the veterinarian, shot the darts. On Monday morning, he stared at Cornelius. The monkey occasionally bared his teeth, apparently unhappy about all the attention.
“Since my job as a vet is to save animals’ lives,” Woodman said, “for me, this was a quest to save his life.”
I am a free loading monkey who lives in Tampa Bay, I like running from the law, but now live at a Zoo – but getting a GIRL zoom-zoom
We are offering memberships to the Mystery Monkey Fan Club! Be among the first to join and reap the benefits and satisfaction of helping Cornelius thrive!
This is the official fan club page for the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay “Cornelius”
The Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay
Has a new monkey Companion
The Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay has successfully been given a female companion, “Cora“. There union was tense for the staff at Dade City’s Wild Things as several attempts in the past did not go well (no monkey was hurt in the process). But to our surprise the union was a match from the beginning. As she presented herself immediately to her handsome boy and love at first sight is the only way to describe their union.
We at Dade City’s Wild Things has given them a grace period for adjusting to their new Union and will be planning their wedding nuptials in the near future.
Mystery Monkey of Tampa & wife Cora welcomes Baby