Frida is living happily at the wildlife sanctuary
By Shawn Kay
Frida is an owl monkey who arrived at the Sanctuary in December 2016 after being confiscated from the illegal pet trade. Owl monkeys (also known as “night” monkeys) are not native to Costa Rica. In the wild, they are found primarily in Panama, Columbia, and other South American countries. The Owl monkey is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation’s Red List. The IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and their data shows that the Owl Monkey’s numbers have declined by 30% in the past 20 years due to habitat loss, deforestation, invasive crops, coffee plantations, armed conflict and the pet trade. Owl monkey is the only truly nocturnal monkey in the world, though there are other nocturnal species of primates such as Loris and Lemurs. They are called Owl monkeys due to their extremely large eyes, thick white eyebrows and their small ears which are largely concealed by fur. They live in small family groups and are socially monogamous. Typically, the bonding pair will produce one infant per year with the male being the primary caregiver. These monkeys feed on a variety of fruits, leaves, and insects, consuming large grasshoppers and even geckos. Frida is one of the most endearing animals at the sanctuary. Her sweet temperament and adorable face make her a volunteer favorite. Being nocturnal, she prefers to spend most of the day snuggled in her house, though she will often pop out for a peek at visitors or to snatch a piece of fruit or sweet potato (her favorite). At night, Frida tears about her enclosure to play, climb and forage for insects. Unfortunately, since Owl monkey is not native to Costa Rica, we cannot release Frida into the wild. There are no other wild Owl monkeys in the country, though there may be more kept as pets, and introducing a non-native species will inevitably interfere with or disrupt the surrounding ecosystem. While Frida is living happily at the sanctuary in her custom designed enclosure, she is now confined to a life in captivity, when she should be living in the wild with her family troop. Frida’s story is yet another unfortunate example of the negative impact of the exotic pet trade. You can help to fight wildlife trafficking by discouraging the purchase of exotic pets and by raising awareness about this nefarious industry.