Monkey Island, Florida is an island that sits in the middle of the Homosassa River. It is owned by the Homosassa Riverside Resort, and they are the ones who are responsible for feeding and caring for the five Spider Monkeys who call the island home. However, Monkey Island was not always a home for monkeys. It started life as a boating hazard.
During the early 1960s, when boaters use to travel the Homosassa River, they had to watch out carefully for the rock mound that was hidden by water during high tides. The water would only cover these rocks enough that a boater could not see them, but often the bottom of their boat would hit the top of the mound and puncture it. At this time, it was called the Crow’s Nest rather than Homosassa’s Monkey Island.
This lead to a man named G.A. (Furgy) Furgason, who earned the title “Mr. Homosassa” because of how much effort he put into the planning and directing how Homosassa progressed for 36 years of his life. He worked alongside of Bruce A Norris, Norris Cattle Company’s owner, until he retired in 1983. It was their partnership that led to negotiation and the subsequent purchase of the Yardarm Lounge, Riverside Crab House, Wildlife Park, Riverside Resort, Sugarmill Woods, Riverhaven Village, and the Crow’s Nest.
Mr. Furgason met a new acquaintance named Dr. John N. Hamlet on a trip to Rapid City. The late Mr. Hamlet was a naturalist who came to Florida at Furgason’s urging. It was Mr. Hamlet who brought captured monkeys to Florida and the Weekie Wachee amusement park. The monkey’s purpose was to help perfect the polio vaccine.
It was Furgason’s desire to help boaters that began the creation of Monkey Island. He wanted to put dirt over the rocks so that it would be easier to see. The dragline operator did that and more. He had piled up enough rocks and dirt over the rocks that he had built an island right outside of the Yardarm Lounge. It was barren and an eyesore.
The first thing that happened was a lighthouse was built upon the island. Then Furgason began to look for other decoration and strongly began to consider the monkeys that were living freely along the canal. These monkeys who called the canal home, were often mischievous and they would get into visitors cars, they would bite tourists, and steal candy. The first residents of Monkey Island were two squirrel monkeys and three spider monkeys once a few huts and trees were added to the island.
The original monkeys ate the palm tree hearts that had been planted, which lead to cedar trees being planted. These trees and the monkeys lived comfortably for 12 years. At this time, they were replaced with younger monkeys because people would come just to see the monkeys on Monkey Island.
You can view Ralph, the alpha monkey and his matriarch named Sassy. You can watch their offspring Ebony as well as two adopted family members named Eve and Emily. The two Squirrel monkeys that once lived on the island, named Tiny and Tim passed away in 2003 of old age.
The monkeys are content to live on the island. They have everything they need, as well as entertainment from all the visitors who come to see them. However, they are further encouraged to stay on the island and out of mischief because they do not want to swim.
It is easy to get to know about the monkeys who live on Monkey Island. Due to the fact that visitors closing interacting with the monkeys, is prohibited, there are a variety of island features that protect them as well as guests. One of these features includes a video camera that allows people to view the monkeys from any computer with an internet connection via a live feed.
Are you ready to watch the antics of these five monkeys who will live out their life happily being cared for on Monkey Island, Homosassa? It will truly be a visit that you will not soon forget.