We knew from the start this was going to be fun. As we entered the enclosed habitat, Toby greeted us at the gate. He’s a resident Capuchin monkey (White Face or Cara Blanca) who provides the main show at SIBU Sanctuary, with his high energy and cute antics.
The main population of Howler Monkeys (Congos) is a more docile species, embodying the Pura Vida lifestyle. They prefer to lie around on the inner tubes and limbs above our heads and watch. Or play with their stuffed toys. They follow us from chamber to chamber within the 30’ high habitat, curious but shy. Occasionally, fruit is thrown.
Toby, however, is of much bolder stock – a Cara Blanca can be quite aggressive in the wild. He grabs at our hats and cameras. Tries to pull things out of our pockets. Then he’s off to wrestle with his buddy the Pizote (Coati or Coatamundi). Together, they entertain us throughout our visit. But while we’re otherwise engaged Ginger, a previously released Howler, breaks into the kitchen by undoing the cotter pin at the gate to raid for fresh papaya.
This is life at Sibu Sanctuary, where Vicki and Steve Coen rehabilitate injured and abandoned Howler Monkeys along with other small mammals, preparing them to return to the wild forest.
Some have been electrocuted (or orphaned by the electrocution of their mothers) while crossing roads on uninsulated electrical lines, which is a huge problem as development in Costa Rica pushes against Nature.
First stop for injured animals is usually the sister site, Refugio Animales de Nosara (Nosara Wildlife Refuge), where their injuries are treated. Once they move to SIBU, they spend 2 1/2 years before returning to the forest.
Together, the sister sites are known as Nosara Wildlife Rescue and they have rehabilitated and released over 70 Howler Monkeys, plus numerous other small mammals. Raccoons, possums, porcupines, and Cara Blancas have all spent some time here.
Charlie, one of their early releases, stops by frequently with his own troupe now. He has a new baby, on one of his 6 wives.
A visit to SIBU Sanctuary is well worth the $50.00 per person donation. Make a reservation with Vicki@NosaraWildlife.com or (506) 8866-4652. You can also visit the Refuge, (506) 2682-5049. Just 45 minutes drive from Casa Mango and Casa Papaya, a visit to SIBU or the Refuge makes a great day trip, followed by lunch on Playa Pelada. When you see the work they’re doing, you’ll be glad to help.