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PHOTOS: Moving Day For The Mystery Monkey Of Tampa Bay

8:07 AM, Dec 3, 2012   |    comments
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DADE CITY, Florida (WTSP) -- The now world-famous Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay will get his first look Monday at the new home where he'll live out his days.

He'll never see the skyline of his old St. Petersburg home again. But he will see other monkeys -- something experts say is critical for the health of any monkey.

The Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay has been named Cornelius by the team that tracked him for years and finally captured him in October.

Cornelius is a particularly clever character in the movie "Planet of the Apes."

Ever since that capture, he's been in quarantine in Palm Harbor. Thursday, the State of Florida handed over custody of Cornelius to Vernon Yates.

And Monday at 11 a.m., Yates will bring Cornelius to his new, permanent home at Dade City's Wild Things in Pasco County.

The humans involved with the transfer have been planning for this move for more than a month.

The zoo is closed to the public on Mondays, so the monkey will have some time and space to adjust to his new home.

There is a temporary enclosure already in place and at least one female friend has been identified to eventually move in with him.

Cornelius has not spent time with any other monkeys in several years, after experts think he was chased off from a small colony of monkeys near Ocala.

But it looks like his time around humans may help this big adjustment.

"I've seen him a couple of times and he's adapting quite well. In fact, Vernon actually feeds him out of his hand," said Randy Stearns, the lead trainer at Dade City's Wild Things.

"He has adapted quite well to interacting, and I think he's kind of gotten a lot of that from when... people were feeding him, so he's kind of had that human contact before he was captured."

After being spotted in several Tampa Bay communities, Cornelius lived in the trees of a St. Petersburg neighborhood for more than a year.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissionofficers decided he had to be captured after he bit a woman in October.

Obviously, it takes more than a bunch of bananas to care for a monkey like this. The zoo has launched the Mystery Monkey Fan Club.

Contributions from people who sign up as fan club members will help build a new, big permanent habitat for Cornelius and other monkeys that eventually live with him.

--Grayson Kamm, 10 News