DANIA BEACH, Fla. - In a world in which flight security is at an all-time high, a family of outlaws is living under Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport's airspace.
Nonnative vervet monkeys swinging in Dania Beach trees might be Broward County's worst-kept secret, but now the animals have migrated north.
"Us old Florida people know they've been here forever, but you really don't see them that often," said Dave Winquist, who works near the area where the monkeys live.
The monkeys are hungry, and they are not shy.
"This is the first time I've been around when there's been a whole family just breeding and eating," Winquist said.
There are several theories about how the monkeys ended up in Broward County. One legend has it that a 1950s roadside attraction set a family of vervet monkeys free near Dania Beach. But nobody knows for sure how the monkeys, which hail from western Africa, wound up in South Florida.
"You'll see them getting pregnant and then next thing you know there will be a little baby, and it will start growing up and another one pops out," Winquist said.
As many as 15 monkeys live in one small forest, including a mother, a father and several younger monkeys. A raccoon is treated like a long-lost family member.
Thanks to workers at nearby businesses, the monkeys are so well fed, they have become picky eaters.
"They love peanuts, but if you give them a salted peanut, they throw it down," Winquist said. "Some people around here have names for all of them. I don't, but there's that think they may be their children."
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