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Mysterious island used to help medical research that is off-limits to the public
Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Lowcountry Lifestyles

Mysterious island used to help medical research that is off-limits to the public

It is located about 80 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina

An island off the coast of South Carolina is off limits to the public for a very specific reason.

Morgan Island is located about 80 miles south of Charleston and has an area of approximately 4,489 acres.

The small island is covered with trees, which have spread right up to the beaches.

Members of the public are banned from setting foot on the island, with only licensed researchers being granted access.

A sign at the island lays out grave consequences for anyone who tries to set foot on the island.

It reads: "Do not feed, approach, disturb, molest, or injure the animals."

The sign also notes: "Violators will be prosecuted."

Morgan Island is located off the coast of South Carolina.

The island is home to some 4,000 rhesus macaques, AKA rhesus monkeys, which can often be seen frolicking around.

But the monkeys are not native to Morgan Island.

Left to their own devices, rhesus monkeys are native to large parts of South, Central, Southeast Asia. This includes Southeast Afghanistan, Pakistan, North and Central India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, North Vietnam, and South East China.

So it's fair to say they have a pretty extensive natural range, but it does not include South Carolina.

So, how did they get there?

Well, they were transported to Morgan Island in 1979 following an outbreak of herpes at a primate research centre in Puerto Rico.

The population has grown steadily each year since then to its current size of around 4,000.

However, as many as 600 monkeys are taken away each year to be used for biomedical research.

While no testing is done on the island itself, the monkeys are taken to research facilities for vaccines and other medical treatments.

In 2021, South Carolina Congresswoman Nancy Mace accused the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its Director, Doctor Anthony Fauci, of abusing monkeys from the island.

The island is home to around 4,000 monkeys.

However, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) responded to these allegations, confirming the use of 400 to 600 Morgan Island monkeys annually for research, but assured their adherence to federal law regarding the monkeys' health.

"The maintenance of the colony is conducted in accordance with all federal laws, regulations and policies," said Ken Pekoc with the NIAID communications office. "And the animals are provided food, water, and veterinary and other care both on and off the island."

While the public are banned from setting foot on the island, anyone who wants to get close can visit on a boat tour.

These are run by Lowcountry Tidal Tours, with the company saying it's one of their most in demand trips.

The tour company says: "Morgan Island itself has a fascinating story and seeing rhesus monkeys in the low country landscape is nothing short of surreal."

Topics: News, US News, World News, Health, Animals