Costa Rica News – Manuel Antonio was always popular among tourists but has increasingly become known as the beach where you can hand feed the monkeys.
The reasoning is clear and makes sense. The monkeys, raccoons and other animals in the park are not designed to eat packaged food or even natural fruits brought in from other areas. Their diet has been changed drastically over the years, which is bad on many fronts.
For one, these new eating habits put the animals at risk of bone problems, diabetes, tooth decay, and the list goes on. As they become reliant on human food, the calcium and protein in their diet decreases and the fat and sugar increases. Refusing to eat insects and other natural staples of their diet, they have little calcium and phosphorus, both of which are needed to have healthy babies. With each pregnancy they lose more and more calcium and have weaker babies. This can have long term consequences on the species.
Additionally, the babies are learning that they way to get food is from humans and they are not learning to hunt or survive in the wild.
Raccoons are experiencing another change, that of a varied schedule. While naturally nocturnal, they are being seen in the day because of the availability of people feeding them. There have been cases of aggression from both raccoons and monkeys seeking food.
Another risk is that the ecosystem is becoming imbalanced. Monkeys should be eating fruits and dispersing seeds leading to new plant growth, but they are not. They should be eating bugs but instead the insects are increasing too fast negatively affecting the crops.