The Monkeys of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
We finally made it to Manual Antonio Park and according to the guide books Manual Antonio or MA, for short, is a must see National Park. MA’s jungle reaches to the beach and both land and ocean are teeming with wildlife. We were most excited, along with a few of the other tourists (about 99% of them), to see the monkeys.
There are 4 species of monkey (that are talked about) in Costa Rica and 3 of these 4 are found in MA. Being the Naturalists that we are, it may not surprise you to learn that we identified 2 monkeys not mentioned in any book we have ever read on Costa Rica. It may be because of the negative effect they might have on tourism.
The 5 Monkeys of Manuel Antonio Park
This monkey loves the lime light and because of his success in the film industry has become a prima donna.
The monkey has starred as Marcel on the TV show Friends and had major roles in the movies: Outbreak. Raiders of the Lost Ark and the feel good hit of 1988 Monkey Shines.
This penchant for being selected in films has made the WHC Monkey want more than his fair-share of attention. What is yours, he feels is his and what’s his is his.
Just open a bag of peanut M&M’s within a 30 feet radius of a WHC and see what happens.
BTW – do not feed the monkeys human food. It only encourages them.
The Mantled Howler
The Mantled Howler Monkey, or just Howler Monkey for short, is a bit of a recluse. He is jealous of the WHC Monkeys success and has chosen to remain hidden in the jungle rather than seek out humans.
The Howler Monkey tried to make it in movies but was relegated to just providing voice overs, mostly for low-budget horror movies which are set in a jungle.
He thought he would make it big with the popularity of Jurasic Park as he provided the voice for some of the dinosaurs. Instead, he was just made fun of by the other monkeys and so he sulks in the jungle.
You may catch a glimpse of a Howler, like I did for this shot. Most likely though, you will just hear him moaning, howling, over his plot in life, sounding a lot like I would imaging a dinosaur would.
This monkey is a free-spirit. Free from the trappings of fame he spends his days frolicking in the jungle. Running across monkey bridges that hang over the street that goes to Manual Antonio. And doing cartwheels across roofs of homes in the area.
The only thing that really gets The Squirrel Monkey down is people’s incessant mistake of calling him a Spider Monkey.
He is NOT a Spider Monkey.
Spider Monkeys are the only monkey that is found in Costa Rica that is not found in Manual Antonio.
Squirrel YES Spider NO
The next 2 monkeys I have not found described in any guidebook. So I figured I would do the researchers of Costa Rica National Parks a service and document them. If you go to MA you will undoubtedly run into these monkeys and they will, most likely, annoy the heck out of you.
This monkey displays a reverse-territorial role. He doesn’t protect his territory he invites you to share it. No, he DEMANDS that you share it and demands a bit of money as well.
He will shout and gesture and wave his arms to get you to go into his parking lot. When you don’t, he will step in front of your vehicle while you stick your head out of the car window to tell him it is not necessary.
He will then grab a police person to help encourage you into the lot.
Once you tell the police person that your hotel is beyond the parking lot, and at the end of the street with its own parking that is gratis, the parking monkey steps aside and, reluctantly, allows you through.
You tell the hotel about the monkey you just saw and they agree, the parking monkeys are becoming a nuisance.
The Souvenir Monkey, like all except the Parking Monkey, like to find you when you are eating. Unlike the WHC, the SM likes to find you in a restaurant.
Maybe he likes to see what you are going to order, because he usually comes up to the table as you are about to place your order. The sound the SM makes is unlike the call of any of the other monkeys. Like a bird trying to chirp while gargling water.
It must be the strange plastic-looking, bird-shaped appendage that protrudes from his mouth. Certainly an oddity in the animal kingdom.
I will tell you this. The SM does sell some interesting items and if you are shrewd enough you can get a really good deal. Not to toot my own horn but I was able to negotiate a 3 pack of Cohiba cigars down to $5. You don’t need to tell me how good I am.
Manual Antonio Park is a beautiful place to spend a day or 2. You have the opportunity to see many animals: sloths, coati, a ton of birds, crabs and fish and yes, 5 different types of monkeys.
If you like my (attempts at) humor, you may like these posts.
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In addition to writing on this blog, Greg has written for other online publications and has written two popular books about living in Costa Rica:
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