Monkey Island

May 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured

Monkey Island sits in the middle of the Homosassa river and is inhabited year-round by a small family of monkeys. The island is owned by The Homosassa Riverside Resort. They care for the monkeys and feed them regularly. You can get an up-close look from a boat and take pictures or you can see Monkey Island from the resort grounds. You can also see the island from the public boat ramp next to MacRae’s but you’ll need binoculars to view the monkeys from there.

 

Story has it that G.A. (Furgy) Furgason, also known as “Mr. Homosassa” because of his planning and directing of much of the areas surroundings, worked 36 years with Bruce A. Norris of the Norris Cattle Company until his retirement in 1983. They negotiated deals to buy the land where the Yardarm Lounge, the Riverside Resort and the Riverside Crab House, the Wildlife Park, the Crow’s Nest, Sugarmill Woods, and Riverhaven Village now sit.

 

Mr. Furgason said he ran into the late Dr. John N. Hamlet in Rapid City and convinced the naturalist to come to Florida. Upon his arrival, Dr. Hamlet was hired by Weekie Wachee as a naturalist and subsequently was hired by Furgy. Dr. Hamlet had captured monkeys and brought them to America where they were used to perfect the polio vaccine.

Monkey Island was just a pile of rocks in the 1960′s that took the bottoms right out of boats during high tide. Furgy went to Africa on Norris Cattle business leaving instructions for the dragline operator, working for him on

the Crow’s Nest, “pull some dirt around those rocks so the boaters can see it better”. When he got back to Homosassa, the dragline operator had piled so much dirt and rocks up that he had succeeded in building a barren island right outside the Yardarm.

Having no idea what to do with this horrible eyesore, he decided to build a lighthouse on it. He then started thinking about the monkeys along the canal at the Attraction. There were some that were rather difficult, always escaping and getting into visitors cars, stealing candy and biting tourists. He said he had often thought of sending them to Alcatraz and decided the island would be perfect. He put three spider monkeys and two squirrel monkeys on the island with some huts and some trees.

The first island monkeys lasted 12 years before they began to die and were replaced with younger monkeys. The island turned out to be a big attraction for the visitors and became known as Monkey Island.

Palm trees were planted but the monkeys kept eating the palm hearts, which caused the trees to die. Cedars replaced them and prospered.

Today there are five spider monkeys on the island. There is Ralph, the alpha male, Sassy, the matriarch and Ebony, their offspring plus two of the newest female adoptions of Eve and Emily. The two squirrel monkeys, Tiny and Tim, died of old age in 2003. New houses, play toys and enhancement features are always being added for their amusement. Visitors to our river are a constant source of entertainment for the monkey family.

Even though the ownership of the property with island has changed over the years, the monkeys have always been under the care of the owners. The monkeys are fed twice a day from a menu designed specifically for them and consisting of green leafy vegetables, bananas, oranges, sweet potatoes, raw peanuts and monkey chow.

They remain on the island because they prefer not to swim and the river acts as a natual barrier. Today they still delight the Yardarm and hotel guests with their playful antics.

Comments

8 Responses to “Monkey Island”

  1. janet duncan on June 15th, 2010 2:15 pm

    I was at Homosassa a few years ago and enjoyed myself at the restruant and watched the monkeys had alot of fun. Can not wait to go back!

  2. Cindy Bernard on February 28th, 2011 3:20 pm

    We were at the Monkey Bar in October 2010 and totally enjoyed it. The fish was absolutely the best!!! Can not wait to come back!
    We are from Wisconsin and we are going to see about coming for another visit in May of this year! :)

  3. Jani on March 19th, 2011 11:28 am

    We have been going to Monkey Island for 20 years. Its very relaxing to eat dinner and watch the monkeys play. Our kids LOVED it when they were little, today we are planning to take our grandchildren there.

  4. Rick Neal on May 23rd, 2011 8:46 pm

    Just took the kids on a river run and they loved the monkeys … very cool to see in the middle of the river. We had no idea they were there before we got to the island.

  5. Dixie Durcan on June 4th, 2012 10:16 pm

    My children and late husband loved the time we went boating for the day , and the river and saw the monkeys and their island we also ate at the Crab Shack there on the river great food.

  6. Barbara Wheaton on June 14th, 2012 12:39 pm

    We have a place there in Homosassa we have had it for 12 yrs now. We spend our winters there in Homosassa it’s a wonderful town & we especially love to go &
    watch the monkeys & eat there in the restaurant. We take our grandchildren there when they come to Florida to visit. Barbara Wheaton June 14 2012

  7. lori on August 24th, 2012 5:37 pm

    I remember 40 years ago (plus or minus) We use to vacation here. Back then,we actually would take paddleboats out to monkey island. Those monkeys would jump right into our boats and steal our stuff. As a child it was scarey and awesome at the same time! Loved staying there! Memories :)

  8. Mark Abrizenski on June 2nd, 2013 7:23 am

    I was down to Homosassa looking at homes and we found one! Debbie our Realator brought me out to eat and see the monkeys on the island. I know i will be sharing the jewel with Friends and Family when they come down. The food was great and service was good. Cant wait to take my wife to see and eat later this year after the move.

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