An estimated 200 rhesus macaques live in and around Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, Florida, the remnants of an entrepreneur’s failed 1930s plan to make the monkeys part of a riverboat attraction. The monkeys’ population has been growing for years, and they have recently been spotted outside the park in nearby places like The Villages, where over 150,000 people—most of them retired—live.
But the monkeys, who are largely a peaceful bunch, are also wild animals, meaning that a wrong move during an encounter can lead to some aggression, and, for you, possibly, some fear. Take the Ramsey family, who was spending time in the park on June 29, when they ran into a pack of monkeys who weren’t terribly excited to see them.
No one was hurt, but Susie Ramsey told WFTS that weren’t any signs indicating that monkeys might be around, and she was a little irritated about it “because they’re obviously very aggressive.”
Ramsey also said that her family didn’t do anything to provoke the attack.
Experts say the best way to avoid a monkey attack is to stand your ground, open your palms—indicating that you aren’t carrying food—and to not look the monkey in the eye or bare your teeth, both of which can be signs of aggression.
Also, don’t run and scream, which will make them even more aggressive. Stay calm. You’ll get through this.