In February 1924, some “ring-tailed monkeys” were placed on Monkey Island near the 9th tee on the new Pasadena (Bear Creek) golf course. To be precise, the ring-tailed “monkey” ‒ as it was commonly referred to in the 1920’s ‒ is a lemur. Lemurs are primates, an order that includes monkeys, apes and humans.
Over a period of months, the Monkey Island keepers introduced several different types of simians to the small island. Monkeys are known to fight for dominance and supremacy, so conflict was inevitable.
By late 1926, the Florida land boom had collapsed and the developer, “Handsome Jack” Taylor abandoned his Pasadena sales office and laid off the staff. The monkeys on Monkey Island were neglected and left to fend for themselves.
In January 1927, there was a “free-for-all” fight between monkey groups on the island (St. Petersburg Times, Jan 21, 1927). The ring-tailed group swam across the lake, migrated about three miles north and hid in the Jungle neighborhood.
Eleven months later, a group of school children picnicking in the Jungle found the eight escapees ‒ plus four more of their offspring.
In St. Petersburg and Its People, Walter P. Fuller wrote that he saw monkeys walking across his seawall at 450 Park Street North around that time. Fuller said the monkeys lived happily in the Jungle for several years.
The Roaring Twenties, the Florida Land and Tourism Booms, the Jazz Age, Prohibition, Organized Crime, Speakeasies, Two World Wars, the Advent of Radio and Moving Pictures, the Rising Popularity of Baseball and Golf, the Dawn of Aviation, and the Emergence of Celebrity Culture ‒ These Influences Converge in the Jungle.
For more Jungle adventures, visit my blog The Jungle Country Club History Project – The Awesome and Unheralded History of St. Petersburg’s West Coast.