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Tranquilizer dart ends roaming days of Florida's 'Mystery Monkey'

After four years of evading wildlife officials, Florida's "Mystery Monkey" was captured after biting a woman. WFLA's Peter Bernard reports.

After years on the run, the celebrity simian dubbed the “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” has been captured.

The monkey, which has eluded trappers for several years as it roamed a neighborhood in south St. Petersburg, was caught Wednesday after a veterinarian shot it with a tranquilizer dart, Baryl Martin, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told Tampa Bay Online.


Authorities intensified efforts to capture the monkey after it bit a 60-year-old woman on the back earlier this month. The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was sitting on her porch when the creature jumped on her and started scratching and gnawing on her skin.

Archive video: After being on the loose for months, a rhesus macaque monkey continues to drive animal control officials bananas in the Tampa Bay area. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

Woman fends off attack from 'Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay'

Weeks before its capture, the monkey had grown more aggressive, thanks to residents who began feeding the monkey and treating it as more of a pet, officials said. The monkey reportedly lunged at residents and showed his teeth, TBO.com said.

Martin said they staked out an area where the monkey had been spotted several times, near Country Club Way South and Fairway Avenue South in St. Petersburg's Lakewood Estates, it said.

Trappers spotted the monkey on Wednesday on a low-hanging branch, about 2 to 3 feet off the ground, Martin told reporters.

Archive video: Jan. 15, 2009: A rhesus monkey is outrunning even a veteran trapper in Clearwater, Fla. NBC's Mark Potter reports.

A veterinarian at the scene shot the monkey with a tranquilizer dart. The monkey ran into the woods at a slow pace, so slow that trappers were able to snatch it by hand, TBO.com reported.

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The monkey was taken to a veterinarian's office, where it will be observed for a short time before it is placed in a permanent facility.

The monkey, which has gained notoriety in recent years after numerous sightings throughout the area, is a 40-pound wild rhesus macaque. Officials believe the monkey may have been cast out of a colony in Silver Springs near Ocala, Fla.

The monkey had become something of a celebrity, according to Tampa media. A Facebook page on behalf of the monkey was featured on Comedy Central’s "Colbert Report" and in a National Geographic special.

NBC News's Sevil Omer contributed to this report.

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