Reggie the monkey is back home.
Employees at the Twin Palms Resort and Marina in Fruitland Park spotted the fugitive simian early Monday and kept the spider monkey, which escaped from the visiting Leibling Brothers Circus about a month ago, busy until its owner retrieved it.
Denny Mulholland, owner of Twin Palms, said it was the first time a monkey had been the subject of so much attention at the rustic fish camp.
"If you want to monkey around, come on out to Twin Palms," Mulholland said. "Back to nature, you know, the gators and the monkeys."
Marina manager Bill Nichals spotted Reggie as the monkey hung upside-down by his tail from a storage shelter Monday morning. Nichals offered Reggie some strawberries, snack cakes and other vittles while Lake County Sheriff's Office deputies contacted the animal's owner, Mulholland said. The owner could not be reached for comment Monday.
The owner arrived and brought Reggie's "wife," another spider monkey, in an attempt to coax him down, Mulholland said.
His significant other didn't help; opening a Coca-Cola, however, hit the spot and convinced the wayward circus star off his perch into his owner's arms, Mulholland said.
The wife-monkey had her own message for Reggie: She slapped him good a few times when the escaped animal returned to its owner, Nichals said.
"She was slapping him like 'where you been for the past two months?'" Nichals said.
Neighbors said they had watched Reggie sneaking around the area for about a week. Some fed him bananas but didn't tell any authorities, Mulholland said.
Some were concerned that law enforcement and other officials seemed not to want to help capture the monkey. Quick action is needed with an animal whose temperament is unknown, one man said.
"A monkey will tear your damn face off," said Jim McDonald, who watched employees and bystanders try to coax Reggie from atop a storage shelter.