'Monkey Island' found off SC's coast - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

'Monkey Island' found off SC's coast

A Rhesus monkey A Rhesus monkey

LOWCOUNTRY, SC (WIS) - An island in South Carolina is home to thousands of monkeys.

The exact location cannot be disclosed because the animals on the island are federally protected. It took years to find the place called Monkey Island.

Finding an island that few people believe exists is nearly impossible.

Vince Loper thought it was an urban legend, and his family has owned a home directly across from Monkey Island for decades.

"Like you said, a lot of people don't believe it," he said.

Vince and his son, Devin, helped a North Carolina television news crew from WCNC find what so many say is a myth.

After several hours of snaking through South Carolina estuaries, the years-long search paid off.

Slowly, one at a time, they came towards the boat.

They're called Rhesus monkeys and they're native to India, but 3,500 of them live in the wild in South Carolina.

Rhesus monkeys were first brought there in 1979 and they were left on the island to live and breed almost 750 newborns a year.

Every monkey is tagged or tattooed, and each year 500 monkeys are taken to labs.

Over the decades, they've been used to test vaccines for everything from AIDS to bio-terrorism agents.

Few people, even those who live there, have ever seen them.

"Just in amazement that there's monkeys running around on that island right there," said Lopez. "Ha ha ha."

Seeing them first hand in the Carolinas is a bit mind boggling.

Posted by Bryce Mursch

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