3 minutes reading time (579 words)

10 Reasons Why You Should Never Feed Monkeys (or other wildlife)


One of the highlights on any trip to Central America is seeing monkeys and other wildlife in a natural environment. In Costa Rica, you can see white faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and much more. You might think that feeding the monkeys (and other wildlife) could be a harmless, exciting experience. Many people, even tour guides, will lure monkeys with food but you are not doing the monkeys a favor. In fact, you are actually harming them. Here's why:

  1. Monkeys are highly susceptible to diseases from human hands. They can die from bacteria transferred off your hand that has no ill effect on you.
  2. Migration to human-populated areas to be fed increases the risk of dog attacks and road accidents.
  3. Irregular feeding can lead to an aggressive behavior towards humans and other species.
  4. Contrary to the stereotype, bananas are not the preferred food of monkeys in the wild. Bananas, especially those containing pesticides, can be upsetting to the monkeys' delicate digestive system and cause serious dental problems that can lead to eventual death.
  5. Feeding creates a dangerous dependency on humans that diminishes the monkeys' survival abilities.
  6. Feeding interferes with the monkeys' natural habits and upsets the balance of their lifestyle centered on eating wild fruits, seeds, small animals, and insects.
  7. Contact with humans facilitates poaching and the trade in illegal wildlife.
  8. Pregnant females who are fed nothing but bananas during their pregnancy will not give birth to healthy infants. The babies will be malnourished, or never develop to term, and die before birth.
  9. Monkeys need to travel an average of 17 kilometers each day to be in good physical condition. If they know that food is available in a particular location, they will not leave the area.
  10. Not only do we pass on diseases to animals when we feed them by hand, but they can pass diseases to us as well.

The Osa Peninsula is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see monkeys - Watch "Into the Wilds of the Osa Peninsula" - Led by local experts, our president and founder Kurt Kutay, got the opportunity to not only gain knowledge about the area and history, but also didn't miss a beat with the guides there to point out the smallest of details that one would usually miss if they weren't a local. 

More tips for observing wildlife

  • Always view monkeys and other wildlife from a safe distance for both you and them. If the animal interrupts its behavior (resting, feeding, etc) then you are too close and should distance yourself.
  • Never interfere with animals engaged in breeding, nesting or caring for young and never pursue, prevent escape, make deliberate noises to distract, startle or harass wildlife. This creates unfair stress on creatures. The impact is cumulative.
  • Never come between a parent and its offspring. This can result in injury or death to both animals and people.
  • Acquaint yourself with the ecosystems of the wildlife you may encounter. By doing so, you will enrich your experience tremendously.
  • When choosing tours or guides, research the company first and choose those that follow ethical wildlife viewing practices, hire local guides, and promote the welfare of wildlife and their environment.

I hope you have many great adventures and see some incredible wildlife, just don't forget that these animals are not tame, no matter how docile or cuddly they appear. Want to see wildlife in Costa Rica responsibly? Check out our trips to Costa Rica or give me a call at 800-345-4453 to find a wildlife trip that's right for you.

Grettel Calderon


La Paloma Lodge, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Where is the Wildlife (WWL)

Cover photo by Wildland alumni Parker Mason

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