very cute noisy monkeys.
Frank & Christine Dziubak
The Howler Monkeys are without a doubt the favorite animals of residents
and tourists of Costa Rica. Being the
tourism stars that they are, they offer the additional advantage of being easy
to find due to their impressing howls. They are also very easy to observe because of their group habits and
their slow travel.
They have scared the daylights out of more than one incautious
tourist with their loud howling. From the intensity of the bellowing one
imagines that a giant bear, Big Foot or maybe the Incredible Hulk was charging
As a matter of fact I know someone who even suffered an
embarrassing accident in his pants, although the biggest embarrassment came
when he learned that the origin of his panic had been a little thing that did
not even rich waist high on him.
Although the Mantled Howler monkeys are locally known as “Congo”
monkeys, the Alouatta
palliata has no relationship
whatsoever with that African country, as they are found exclusively in the
American tropics in an area that extends from the south of Mexico to the north
The peaceful and sociable Congos are quite an icon of Costa Rica
and in particular of Guanacaste, frequently appearing on magazine covers,
starring in promotional videos and omnipresent models in all tourism or real
estate brochures of the area…There is even a local magazine called Howler.
When all is said and done, all tourists want to see monkeys on
their tours and in their ideal mental image of paradise they visualize monkeys
howling in the garden of their new house on the beach.
In the mountain, good. At the beach...much better.
Although they can be found at altitudes up to 2,000mt. Congos prefer
lower and warmer grounds with a marked predilection for the lushness of the
coastal forests. For this reason it’s usual to see large, healthy groups of
Congos moving around complacently and without fear by the coastal towns where,
in addition to finding abundant and always green vegetation, they are able to
stay at a great distance away from the large cats, their only natural
Their 100% vegetarian diet includes a wide variety of fruits,
flowers and a sprinkle of legumes here and there, always combined with large
consumption of new tree growth and young leaves. Their favorites are two local varieties of
Ficus plus the new growth and fruits of the Guava Trees (Psidium guajava) and the flowers and leaves of Copperwood tree (Bursera simaruba).
And what about those huge
screams? How do they make them?
Only the adult
males can emit those monumental howls. Next to a large guttural sac they have an enlarged Hyoid bone, a bone
found on the frontal part of the neck very close to the vocal cords and just
under the tongue which by being hollow and enlarged, amplifies about 20 times
the original sound made by the vocal cords of the howler.
language is not limited only to those loud screams; they have a varied vocal
repertoire that includes diverse kinds of grunts, barks, whining, squawks,
shrieking and even some soft purring between mother and child.
different vocalizations in total have been identified, each with a specific
communicational and social function.
heard a Howler howling? Then see
this video. Be carefull...first time could be kind of scary!!!
The real pura vida lifestyle !
These peaceful primates
live in groups of 10 to 20 individuals, they seldom have internal or inter-group
conflicts, have a very low risk of falling prey to other animals, do not know
scarcity of food and by simply reaching out with their hands they can enjoy a
tasty, varied and abundant meal. Not too shabby for being a monkey, huh?
And to round out a life
without major problems, these shameless will rest or sleep on a branch at least
60% of its existence. What a life, right? To us humans their days may look not
very stimulating but I assure you that in the animal kingdom there is not
subsistence style more pura vida than this.
you like to help these guys?
Of course not all is always perfect in Congo’s lives.
They face certain difficulties such as electrocution in cables (due to the loss
of trees that served as bridges) and also by occasional dog attacks.
Lend a hand...
Monkey Park: Visit this animal shelter and make a
donation to the rescue center for primates and other animals orphaned or
affected by an accident. Monkey-Park.org
Monkey bridges: To help reduce the problems of
electrocution, organize your community to make artificial bridges to reconnect
the Congo’s normal routes.
You can ask guidance and help to SalveMonos.org (Save Monkeys) or by calling (506) 2653 0395