Cooper City is welcoming a new visitor this week, one which has brought surprise, excitement and fear to residents. A monkey has travelled all the way from Dania Beach to Cooper City and surrounding areas, making appearances in the backyards of many.
The monkey, named Mikey, is a part of the Vervet Project, a scientific research study which is collecting data on a population of Vervet monkeys in Dania Beach. The study was started by a PhD candidate named Deborah Williams, and her assistant Cheryl Ruiz, in 2014. Williams and Ruiz are observing the behavioral, ecological, genetic and ethno primatological patterns of the monkey population. They are also studying how the monkeys move through urban landscapes, such as Cooper City.
Mikey has supposedly found himself in Cooper City when a new alpha monkey was introduced to the group, ousting him from their social hierarchy. In the wild, male vervets seek out new groups of monkeys when they are no longer the alpha.
Mikey has supposedly found himself in Cooper City when a new alpha monkey was introduced to the group, ousting him from their social hierarchy.
“We believe that he was basically kicked out of his social group,” Williams said. “A new male showed up and he was displaced, and typically in the wild, males will look for a new social group when that happens.”
Residents have been instructed not to call animal control, Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission or law enforcement if they spot Mikey. These groups, along with others, such as Broward County Parks, Broward County of Commissioners and Recreation and Port Everglades, are aware of the project and have been instructed not to intervene. It is important for the study that the monkey finds its own way back home without human interference. Experts have stated that Vervet Monkeys are extremely good at mapping as they have the ability to memorize landscapes and decide where they want to go.
It is important for the study that the monkey finds its own way back home without human interference.
So far, Mikey has been spotted in many residential neighborhoods and shopping centers. He has reportedly been found in backyards of Davie residents, areas in Embassy Lakes and even Dunkin Donuts. Mikey has been moving around Cooper City for a few days, but is expected to move on from the town very soon.
Mikey has been moving around Cooper City for a few days, but is expected to move on from the town very soon.
If residents spot Mikey, or any other monkey in the future, the Vervet Project has instructed that they report the sighting and fill out a survey on what they think about the local monkeys. The project is currently tracking his stops based on these reports in order to see if he is heading east, back to his home. Officials have also warned people not to feed Mikey, as it can alter his natural behavior and biology. Officials have also stated that residents should to maintain a safe distance from him at all times as a safety precaution.
Photo by Noah Lamdanski