Watch: How did African vervet monkeys get to Fort Lauderdale?

An introduced population of Africa vervet monkeys living near a Fort Lauderdale airport arrived there after escaping from a chimpanzee farm more than 70 years ago. In a new study published in the journal Primates, researchers found historical archives indicating the vervet monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus) are the descendants of individuals that were initially captured in Sierra Leone and brought to the Dania Chimpanzee Farm in Florida, where they were used as test subjects for Polio vaccines. The researchers confirmed their origin using genetic markers. The team identified 36 individuals currently living in a mangrove forests near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. “Data from our study lays the groundwork for future studies to address new questions about the status of the population and how the monkeys have adapted to the urban and industrial environment of South Florida,” said associate professor Kate Detwiler from the Department of Anthropology at Florida Atlantic University. “The correct taxonomic identification and history of the introduced Dania Beach monkeys is important for community outreach and wildlife management, given the remarkable ability for Chlorocebus to thrive in most environments.”

Read more at the Florida Atlantic University News Desk.

Header Image: Two vervet monkeys in a mangrove forest near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in South Florida. Credit: Aaron Mencia