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Monkeys

Edition Jun 23, 2016
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PURA VIDA… BY THE NUMBERS

Numerical facts about Costa Rica

4

The number of monkey species in Costa Rica

 

Out of 250 primate species in the entire world, 68 are found in the Americas, including four distinct species of monkeys embedded in the lush tropical jungles of Costa Rica. Squirrel monkeys, white-headed capuchins, howler monkeys and spider monkeys all swing from the trees under Costa Rica’s rainforest canopy, peacefully co-existing thanks to differing diets that prevent them from competing for food.

While the piercing sounds of howler monkeys can be terrifying at first, they are actually very peaceful vegetarians who feast on plants and fruits as they soar through the rainforest canopy, almost never descending to the ground. Spider monkeys, considered the most intelligent of the four species, also stick to a steady diet of fruits and leaves, while the colorful, adorable and charismatic squirrel monkeys hunt down insects and exhibit behaviors that make them tourist favorites.

On the other side of the food chain, however, capuchin monkeys have the distinction of being the only carnivores in Costa Rica’s monkey family. Their sharp teeth are applied as readily to defending their territory as they are to consuming appetizers such as fruits and leaves, followed by entrees of lizards and birds. Capuchins are considered to be both the most curious and the most aggressive of the four monkey species in Costa Rica, as can be attested to by beach-goers whose backpacks have been raided!

Both spider and squirrel monkey populations are endangered due to habitat loss and/or poaching, however Costa Rica is home to the largest proportion of protected lands in Central and South America. In fact, the only place in Costa Rica where you will find all four species of monkeys together is in the protected environment of Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula.

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