Shortly after this photo was snapped, the lady was told not to feed the monkeys. Normally, a person could say “Oh, I didn’t know.” Except for the fact that there are about 5 million signs in every language of the small park to not feed the wildlife. She kept doing it anyway. Just after this photograph was snapped, I appointed myself International Ambassador of the Council representing Crusaders Against Jackasses to inform her that she was, in fact, everything that was wrong with tourism today. Smiling in order to draw them in closer, I showed them my photos and quietly whispered as they leaned in to look at my viewfinder:
“You’re everything wrong with tourism.”
I was not surprised when they told me I ruined their day. Unphased, I communicated flatly, “Tomorrow was a new day, try not to be douchebags and see how it goes.”
Maybe you feel I was a little harsh, but before you rush to judgement hear me out:
In the circus that has become Manuel Antonio National Park, the monkeys have grown accustomed to people and their food. At first they used to steal it. Now they don’t have to. The idiots in this photograph actually held up a small child – who was terrified and holding a piece of pineapple – and told her, “It’s okay, he won’t bite you.”
Here’s everything that’s wrong with this scenario in no particular order:
1. Monkeys are wild animals. He will, in fact, bite you. He was flashing his teeth (Capuchin’s have huge fangs) the entire time this feeding process was going on. He was aggressive with the other monkeys. Know why? Because they’re fucking monkeys.
2. The people in the photograph have no idea, and as such probably don’t care, of the environmental, cultural and socionomic impact their actions have. I try to research a place I visit as much as possible – and not just to make sure my hotel has a spa in it. I try to find out everything I can ahead of time about the culture, tourism impact, issues the country/city/culture is currently facing, etc. It doesn’t take more than four seconds of respect for where you’re at to not feed the wild animals.
3. The monkeys here have high cholesterol and other health and behavioral problems thanks to being fed by humans. When they need to be treated, it costs the city/province money. The park is littered with trash near the beach, and as it’s a developing country there’s not enough money to hire the numbers of park attendants to monitor stupid bullshit like this.
4. The people feeding the monkey have no concept of wilderness or wild animals. This presents a danger to them and everyone around them. The monkeys grow bolder and more aggressive, presenting possible future harm to park visitors when their natural food is scarce or when they forget where to find it altogether.
5. In conclusion, the people in the photograph are dicks.
Lesson learned: Manuel Antonio park is a shit-show. Important, yes, but a shit-show.