Question Posed to Dr. Simone Rhodes, Provost and VP of Academic affairs
With the feral monkey debacle having reached Duval County, how is the university responding? Some of our best and brightest might approach these animals to take selfies with them. Are students being educated that some of the monkeys are infected with herpes B and that they should stay away from them and contact FWC (and CDC if bitten)? We heard from the university about coronavirus and the non-unique suggestion to wash your hands, but the feral monkeys seem to be a more imminent peril and there needs to be a compelling message.
Answered from the floor by Dr. Rhodes, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs
I’m grateful to the person asking the question because that was a learning opportunity for me. Turns out there are two populations of feral monkeys. There’s one in Southern Florida. And then I think the relevant population here is this population of Rhesus monkeys, which were part of a population released on Silver Springs Island as part of a jungle boat tour attraction in the 1930s and they’ve been around Central Florida since that time because they can swim. So they have been spotted further North. I’ve had conversations with the chief [of UPD], and he’s conversations with JSO. There’s a big dispute whether they’re in Jacksonville proper, but they are certainly moving north. UNF is monitoring this situation. I’ve talked to the police and UNF communications about this and we are monitoring it. I do want to address the other point; we are focused on coronavirus, which is a health priority for UNF and the state of Florida.