I fell in love....
Updated: Jun 29
As the sun rises in Costa Rica, you can hear the howler monkeys starting to wake up…..It’s WILD!
I fell in love with Costa Rica about 20 years ago and have been making an annual trek to the Nicoya Peninsula ever since. Perhaps the howler monkeys were calling my name, (if you listen long enough, and have a tequila or two, their call actually does start to resemble my name). It’s the one place in the world to which I’m always drawn back. `
I acquired this whimsical artwork at a gallery in Nosara almost 20 years ago and I still love it.
I think it was the cheeky Capuchin monkey that captured that my heart the moment I saw this image.
I've longed to find a way to give back to this country that has given me so much for so many years. Fate led me to Wild Sun, a center dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wildlife in Costa Rica. More on that in a minute.
My most vivid memory of my first morning in Costa Rica was the distinctive, guttural sound of the howler monkey. It struck a chord so deep within me, I immediately felt a deep connection to their wild nature. When I stop and think about it, I think one of the main reasons I feel so alive in Costa Rica is wildlife, most notably, the howler monkeys.
Wide-eyed in bed in the early morning, I’d wait for their call. Rather than being irritated as some people are, I’d smile to myself when they would wake up just before sunrise. When I could hear them nearby, I would spring out of bed to try to get a glimpse of them in the jungle canopy above. At the same time, I’d also see the surfers heading down to catch the first waves – if the surf was good they’d be running along the jungle path with their boards under their arms. Imagine being so excited and passionate about the day that you jump out of bed at 5am, and literally RUN to the ocean?
That’s how I want to live. Don’t you?
Right now, I’m envisioning and building a life that includes living in Costa Rica part-time.
I’ve always wanted to find a simple little jungle house, and wake up to the sound of the howlers. To live close to nature, the beach and the ocean. A girl’s gotta dream, right?
A lot has changed in the Nicoya Peninsula over the past two decades – most of the unpaved roads through rivers have turned into nicely paved roads with bridges, and building development is skyrocketing to accommodate the influx of tourists who have discovered the beauty and the idyllic weather that has made Costa Rica one of the most sought-after winter destinations for frozen Canadians. It’s the place to be for nature lovers, yogis, surfers, and adventure seekers who love the vibe that this extraordinary country has to offer. And, it’s a blue zone – which appears to have served as an ideal place for remote workers to relocate over the during the pandemic. And relocate they did! I witnessed it first-hand visiting my friends Ryan and Yannick at Casa Vitality in Nosara for the last couple of winters. Like a lot of places though, while increased tourism is great for infrastructure and the local economy, with increased development, the jungle habitat and hundred-year-old trees that are home to Costa Rican wildlife have come under serious threat. The possibility of extinction even looms for some species.
One of the major threats that the howler monkeys are currently facing is electrocution, and unfortunately, a few years back, I witnessed the electrocution of a howler monkey firsthand – it was devastating.
I remember the moment like it was yesterday.
My dear friend Lori and I were sitting outside the jungle house we had rented in Nosara very early one morning quietly chatting, having our coffee. We noticed a troupe of howler monkeys hanging out in a massive tree not far from where we were sitting. We were delighted so see the monkeys so close by. When one of the monkeys started making his way toward the house on the overhead wires, I ran into the house to wake up the family and called them out to see our primate friends.
Just as my boys (around 9 and 11 at the time) emerged sleepy eyed from the house, we heard a terrible cry from the monkey overhead – horrified, we realized that the monkey was being electrocuted by an uninsulated powerlines (as so many are in Costa Rica). We stood there with tears rolling down our faces as this beautiful creature died painfully in front of our very eyes. It was horrific. Equally devastating was the sound of the troupe crying for their lost family member. There was nothing we could do to save this poor monkey. We immediately called for help, and before any more monkeys could be hurt, some animal rescue folks arrived to assess the situation and to confirm that the monkey was beyond their help.
It was determined that a temporary solution was to build a “monkey bridge” to bypass the dangerous uninsulated wiring and to help ensure safe crossing for the troupe in that spot in the future. We quickly worked with the local monkey refuge and offered to fund the monkey bridge, and it was built immediate that day with the help of some locals, the refuge, and the hydroelectric company. As happy as we were to help make the monkey bridge happen, we also learned that building monkey bridges are only a bandaid solution and that the bigger issue is to address the issue with the uninsulated power lines, which unfortunately are the norm in Costa Rica. It is a massive problem in Costa Rica. But it is one that MUST be addressed.
Photos taken in by Kerri King, 01/02/2017
Everything is connected. We are all connected. We are all responsible.
But what can we do? How can we help?
I’ve been asking myself this question since we witnessed the tragic loss of an innocent monkey (which is happening all the time on an ever-increasing rate).
Over the past few years, I have been asking myself how I can make a difference? How can I use my talents and abilities, my connections, my life experiences to truly help this cause? What can I DO?
A few months ago, I was tagged on an Instagram post from @wildsunrescue – a not-for-profit organization located on the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula on the edge of a wildlife reserve in a little town called Cabuya. I immediately reached out to them and shared my monkey story and offered my help. I attended a Zoom call with Jeremy Levine (Wild Sun’s visionary founder and director) and his team at Wild Sun and heard heart-warming stories about the work that is being done to help rehabilitate and save many species of animals, including numerous howler monkeys and their young which continue to fall victim to electrocution because of the uninsulated powerlines.
I have been engaged to do what I believe could be the most important work of my life and the more I learn, the more I realize that everything and everyone can make a difference.
Create a better future for everyone on the planet - including creatures large and small.
Baby Howler Monkey (mother was a victim of electrocution) photographed in Costa Rica by Kerri King, 01/02/2017
Do you love animals? Do you love Costa Rica?
What I am learning is that every individual can help.
If this work is something that resonates with you because you travel to Costa Rica and feel a calling to make a difference, or because you want to set an example for your children, I invite you to contact me to find out more about joining the important work that Wild Sun is doing in Costa Rica.
Together, we can create a better future for all.
Wild Sun is currently seeking ambassadors. Would you consider joining us?
Wild Sun Ambassadors provide financial support for the care of electrocuted, injured or orphaned wildlife, with the aim of release back into the wild. $100 a month would provide the food needed for a juvenile howler or capuchin monkey each month OR the monthly care and feeding of a breeding pair of macaws, from which Wild Sun is repopulating the Nicoya Peninsula with these amazing birds. (You also will be invited to join our animal care manager for a virtual Ambassador Walking Tour to see, learn more, and ask questions about the animals in our care. We will acknowledge your generosity by listing your name (or business) as a supporter on our website and giving you a shout out on our social media).
To learn more, contact me or visit www.wildsunrescue.org
Please consider becoming a Wild Sun Patreon donor - I’m glad I did.
Join the Wild Sun Patreon Ambassador Program here and help us make a difference.
We become immortal by doing work that lives beyond ourselves
Video coverage from Wild Sun's recent howler monkey release into new transitional environment, and the third release of scarlet macaws back into the wild. Video captured by Wild Sun Team 06/20/2022.