Sliver Springs State Park-Backdrop to Classic Hollywood and Home of Feral Monkeys
Silver Springs was the original Disneyland in America with many Americans traveling down to this central Florida park to witness the natural beauty of the artesian springs. It was the first tourist attraction in the state of Florida. Glass bottoms boats were/are a popular way to view the clear and bluish water as well as Florida aquatic wildlife such as manatees or alligators.There were even visitors to the springs before the civil war. Many northerners traveled to Silver Springs for the sunny weather, exotic landscape, and to take one of its famous glass-bottom boat rides. In 1880, former president grant visited the park.
Today, Sliversprings is part of the state park of the same name. Its fame has seriously dwindled since its heyday in the early and mid-1900s which is a shame because it is a beautiful place. I have never seen water as clear and blue as in Silver Springs. From its natural beauty to its role in the golden age of Hollywood, to its unusual animal inhabitants Sliver spings has alot to offer.
Old Hollywood in Sliver Springs
The exotic nature of Sliver Springs made it an excellent filming location as it could substitute for tropical environments such as those in South America or Africa. Around 20 movies had scenes shot in Silver Springs such as Rebel Without a Cause, Moonraker, and 6 Tarzan films. In 1930-40, Johnny Weismuller was hanging out with his chimp friend cheetah and Jane in Silver Springs(at least for the parts shot outside Hollywood sound stages). Parts of the Creature of the Black Lagoon were filmed here. The actor Rico Browning was giving the filmmakers a tour around silver springs and showed off his swimming skills there. The filmmakers were impressed and gave him the part of the Creature for the swimming scenes. The sequel, Revenge of the Creature filmed even more scenes at Sliver springs. The gill man is one of the most iconic monsters of the 1950 cinema and its legacy still lives on in inevitable remakes and The Shape of Water, the director Guillemero Del Toro wanted to make a movie where the female lead gets with the gill monster.
You can take a classic glass bottom boat ride or rent a kayak, paddleboat, or canoe and a close view of a wild variety of wildlife. You may be able to spot marine life such as Manatees, Alligators, turtles, and lots of fish. Birders will have a great time as wading birds such as limpkins, wood ducks, and black-bellied whistling ducks are common in swamp areas and along the river. Turkeys, bobwhite quail, hairy woodpecker, and American kestrel make their home in the upland areas of the park. The park`s location makes it a common stop for migrating birds songbirds.
Now, let’s get to perhaps the park`s most famous animal inhabitants despite them not being native to the area, Rhesus Macaques. In 1938, a tour boat operator released six Rhesus Macaques onto an Island in Silver Springs park to create Tarzan themed attraction but things immediately fell apart and they escaped. He got 6 more because apparently, he doesn’t learn lessons. Surprise, surprise they escaped again. They all swam across into the main part of the park and their population rapidly increases each year. There are at least 300 to this day despite the efforts of the officials to reduce the population. Why would officials try to get rid of them? For once they are an invasive species that negatively affects indigenous fauna and flora. They are a threat to birds as they will raid their nests and eat their eggs. The second reason is that 25 percent of the monkeys all have HIV which has a chance of being transmitted to humans by bite. Over 1000 have been captured but this stopped in 2012 when it was found out that the monkeys were being sold. There also reluctance to remove them because of their cuteness which attracts visitors to Sliver Springs. These monkeys may look cute but they can be aggressive, I highly recommend keeping your distance if you spot them, one bite could potentially be fatal.