Beware of escaped monkeys, pythons, and even cobras if you travel the Sunshine State.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has received calls about escaped exotic animals on an average of twice a month—that’s 260 escapees in the past 24 months.
Orlando television station WKMG reported recently that monkeys lead the list of jail breakers—nearly a hundred in the past ten years. In another massive escape, 30 monkeys that were to be used in medical experiments were freed by an animal rights group in Miami.
Recently a cobra was reported on the loose in the Orlando area. It was finally captured, hiding under a washing machine.
In another less frightening incident, an elderly woman awoke to find a kinkajou asleep on her chest.
The Miami New Times noted in a recent report that the largest escaped animal was an elephant that walked out of its enclosure and blocked traffic in 2007.
While many of these incidents are amusing, what is less funny is the impact the release of exotic animals are having on Florida’s ecosystem. The state now sponsors annual python hunts in the Everglades, where wildlife officials believe the non-native reptiles are killing off the mammal population there.
And escaped Nile crocodiles may be mating with native North American crocodiles, creating a new, far more vicious breed of predators.
Come visit Florida. Bring a suit of armor.
STRANGE FACT: And bring some sunglasses for the pythons. Snakes don’t have eyelids.