During the 1960s, Monkey Island was nothing more than a pile of rocks known for damaging the bottoms of boats at high tide. G.A. Furgason hired a dragline operator to build up the site in order to increase the visibility of the location. He then left the country on business.
When he returned, he found the contractor piled enough soil and rocks onto the site that it now resembled a small island. The location was less than visually appealing. So, Mr. Furgason constructed a small lighthouse on the island.
A nearby wildlife attraction cared for a number of monkeys along the canal. However, the primates were constantly venturing out of the habitat. During their outings, the animals were known to invade visitor’s vehicles, steal food and bite people.
Furgason decided to end the primate escape problem by transporting the monkeys to the newly developed island. Trees and huts were added to the site, which became the primate’s new environment. Monkey Island was first home to three spider and two squirrel monkeys. The island soon became an unusual attraction for tourists.
Younger monkeys replaced the primates when they died of old age. Over time, efforts were made to enhance the island. Palm trees were installed. However, the monkeys ate the palm hearts, which decimated the trees. Later, cedar trees were planted and thrived.
Currently, one male, three females and an offspring of the oldest pair live on Monkey Island. New houses, toys and other stimulating enhancements are continually being added to amuse the population. The site continues being one of the main attractions in the community.
Although Furgason no longer owns the property, the current owners continue caring for the animals. The primates are fed a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and special monkey chow twice a day. The monkeys have never attempted to swim away from the island, which they now accept as home.
About Homosassa, Florida
The pleasant little community lies in Citrus County along the west-central coastal border of the state. Boating and fishing are popular here along with guided wildlife and manatee tours. Historic locations include the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins, which stand on a 4.49-acre site that also has a picnic area. Visitors also enjoy touring The Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, which cares for a number of bird, mammal and reptile species.
Camping Options Near Homosassa
The city of Ocala lies a mere 40 minutes from Homosassa and has a number of state parks that welcome RV camping in the Cross Florida Greenway area. Pick a destination and make a reservation through Reserve America.
The Rodman Campground contains the Rodman Reservoir where boating and bass fishing are popular past times along with other water-based activities. Hikers enjoy the many trails that offer bird and wildlife viewing The location features a long list of amenities that include laundry facilities, public restrooms and showers. The campground provides 34 RV sites complete with hook-ups, picnic tables and fire rings. There is also a dump station.
Santa Trailhead and Campground
The Santa Trailhead and Campground attracts mountain biking enthusiasts thanks to the more than 80 miles of trails that are appropriate for beginners to the experienced rider. In addition to having picnic pavilions, public restrooms, showers and water, the location boasts a bike wash station. Bike shops are located within close proximity. Hikers enjoy trekking along the Florida National Scenic Trail, which passes through the area. The campground has 22 RV sites that each have picnic tables, grills and fire rings.
Shangri-la Trailhead and Campground
The Shangri-la Trailhead and Campground lie within a forest of oak trees, pines and other hardwood trees that serve as home to a number of bird and mammal species. Cycling and horseback riding are welcome here. The location has 24 campsites featuring public restrooms and water. The campground also has a picnic shelter, showers, a wash rack and dump station.
Silver Springs State Park
The Silver Springs State Park has everything from sandhills to lush forests along with the Silver River. There are also manicured gardens and historic structures to explore. Guests have the chance to get a glimpse of the world under the water by taking an excursion on a glass-bottom boat. The location has 54 campsites and a long list of amenities. Campers have access to laundry facilities, public bathrooms, showers, BBQ grills, fire rings, picnic tables and a dump station. The park also features interpretative nature trails, a gift shop and museum. Cycling, horseback riding, boating and fishing are welcome here.