It was reported on May 26, 2008 in a story by Jeremy Maready of The Ledger, a Lakeland, Florida paper, that the Polk County Sheriff's Office received a call about a monkey sighting on Tom Costine Road. A woman said she spotted a large furry primate in a tree on Sunday.
Deputies from the Sheriff's office and the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission soon arrived to capture the creature, but it turned out not to be a monkey at all, but a large fox squirrel. The deputy, who is an avid hunter, said it was the biggest fox squirrel he had ever seen.
It seems on April 22 of that year 15 patas monkeys escaped from a place nearby called Safari Wild. There has been some progress in catching some of the monkeys, but patas monkeys can run up to 35 mph, so they have been very difficult to catch.
Fox squirrels are much less common than gray squirrels in Florida, and two of the three subspecies found in Florida are listed as endangered. One subspecies known as Sherman's fox squirrel, which is shown in the picture above, does have an odd monkey-like appearance. So you may imagine that there might be some confusion when a person sees one of these creatures.
To read The Ledger's complete original story of how a fox squirrel was mistaken for a monkey, go here: Fox Squirrel Mistaken for Monkey
To read more about monkey squirrels go here: Ten Questions: Florida Monkey Squirrels
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