Do you know the difference between a monkey and an ape? It’s all in the tail. You’ll learn this and much more at Monkey Jungle, a hidden gem in our own backyard.
With summer in full swing, if you have some bored kiddies, this is a great option for a day’s adventure. Adults who can do a mild walk would also really enjoy this unique attraction where the monkeys roam free.
Monkey Jungle started with the passion of Joseph DuMond, a Connecticut native, to study primates in their native environment. In 1935, DuMond purchased 10-acres of South Florida hardwood hammock because its climate and ecology were so similar to the monkeys’ home in Southeast Asia.
Beginning with just six imported Crab-eating Macaques, one of 23 subspecies of Macques, DuMond did scientific studies and quickly found that the monkeys were territorial and always returned to their new Florida home. Being the Depression years, DuMond funded his studies by opening the grounds to visitors for 10 cents a visit.
As visitors toured, DuMond observed that the Java monkeys started to defend their territory in a somewhat aggressive manner, so instead of caging the monkeys, he “caged” the visitors. Over the years, the DuMond family has added many other species of monkeys, apes and birds.
Today, guests of Monkey Jungle walk paths with simple wired cages around them. The monkeys are not shy to come observe the humans, with special feeding apparatus where guests put food into small pans on chains and the monkeys pull the chains up to the cage ceiling and eat in delight.
There are educational presentations scheduled throughout the day including the wild monkey swimming pool, hanging with the Orangutan, Cameroon Jungle with King the Gorilla and the Amazonian Rainforest Feeding.
The DuMond Conservancy Research Program runs from the same location and continues to provide valuable primate research to the world. It is the largest collection of Owl Monkeys outside a laboratory setting in the world. The Conservancy is focused on breeding primates, especially the Golden Lion Tamarin, which is increasing rare with less than 500 left in the wild.
Marty Kaye has been visiting Monkey Jungle for years. “I owned a Jeep dealership back then and our Jeep Club met here,” he explained. Kaye now volunteers at Monkey Jungle doing everything from writing and editing marketing pieces to cutting back vegetation. “I love this place and my favorite thing is to visit my monkey, Penelope. I call her Spidey because she’s a Spider Monkey.” Spidey is 4-years old and was rejected by her mother. There is no shortage of surrogates, including Kaye. “She knows me and shows off every time I come to see her by dancing and talking to me.”
You can visit Monkey Jungle at 14805 SW 216 Street daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information call 305-235-1611 or go to monkeyjungle.com
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