What is the history of the vervet population?!
The source of the Dania Beach vervet population has been traced back to the Anthropoid Ape Research Foundation. Leila Roosevelt (distantly related to President Roosevelt) and Armand Denis, Sr. opened the facility in 1944, located on U.S. 1 and Dania Beach Cut-off Canal in the city of Dania Beach, Florida. The primary purpose of the foundation was to import primates from Africa and them sell to various facilities to aid in medical research. Bill Westley was employed by the foundation in 1944 to travel to Africa to collect primates. He detailed his adventures in his book, Chimp on My Shoulder, which was published in 1950. His journey started in Sierra Leone and ended in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While traveling to the center of Africa, he described collecting green vervet monkeys, among other Old World Monkeys and chimpanzees that were shipped back to the foundation in Dania Beach, Florida. In 1951, the facility was sold to John Ash and renamed the Dania Chimpanzee Farm. A former employee, Peter Karsner, reported a group of 12 vervets escaped in 1948. The 1990’s documentary, A Dania Monkey Story, interviewed a former zookeeper for the Dania Chimpanzee Farm. This employee (now deceased) stated that the monkeys in Dania Beach were indeed descendants from a group of 12 monkeys that escaped from the Dania Chimpanzee Farm. The Dania Chimpanzee Farm closed in 1956 when Florida Power and Light bought the land. Today Florida Power and Light still owns and uses the land.
What is a 'vervet' monkey?
Vervet monkeys are distributed throughout Africa. There are 6 known species within the genus Chlorocebus. The Dania Beach vervet monkeys show phenotypic traits of the species sabaeus. This West African vervet monkey is typified by a long golden tipped tail and golden-green hair. The males have a pale blue scrotum. Chlorocebus sabaeus is distributed from Senegal to the Volta River. Monkeys have been introduced to Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Martin, and Barbados through the slave trade in the 1600’s. In Africa and the Caribbean, the vervet monkey is considered a pest primate. Often the monkeys are poisoned or shot by the locals due to crop raiding and property damage. However, in Dania Beach, the monkeys are a treasured primate of the community and fiercely protected.
What do I do if I see a monkey?
If you are lucky enough to encounter a monkey, please take a photo and enjoy. Please DO NOT feed as it is actually harmful. Feeding the monkeys increases habituation to people (not everyone is a nice person), causes aggression between monkeys competing for food items, and it alters their natural behavior and biology. Report a sighting here: