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Monkey Island receives close to $100,000 for repairs

The Historic Monkey Island. (Photo Aileyahu Shanes/WUFT News)
The Historic Monkey Island. (Photo Aileyahu Shanes/WUFT News)

Three monkeys call a historic island deep in Homosassa, Citrus County, home.

But they’ve been relocated to Brooksville since their home is in disrepair.

In response, the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners is giving $98,000 for repairs to the Historic Monkey Island.   

This primate paradise was built in response to some serious monkey business in Homosassa in the 1960s. Spider monkeys were escaping and causing trouble in the city. That led to the monkeys being relocated to the small island. Since these monkeys prefer not to swim, they can’t come back to land. 

Over the years, the island has been battered by storms, causing disrepair. 

“There’s not a whole lot of protection from the weather,” said John Pricher, Citrus County tourist development director. “So over the years and the number of storms that have come through, it just has gotten battered.”

Citrus County gave its blessing for the repair money during its commission meeting Tuesday. 

The price may be steep, but to Citrus County District 2 Commissioner Diana Finegan, it's worth it.

“I grew up in Citrus County, and I’ve always known about the monkeys,” said Finegan. “I knew they were beloved, but I also know the benefit to the community.”

She adds it’s a unique place and sees the money for repairs as a “boon” to the local economy. 

The money will be used to bring the island up to code. The U.S. Department of Agriculture along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation is forcing Monkey Island to be built more like a zoo. 

This means the monkeys will get a brand-new HVAC system built into their home, along with the repairs to the shelter and the lighthouse on the island. 

Pricher said repairs should be completed in about six months. Ebony, Ralph and Emily, Monkey Island's three residents, will return home shortly after.

Aileyahu is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.