Monkey throwing poop – bombs away: Howler monkeys are what visitors to the Gold Coast typically like to see up close and personal. However, howlers are arboreal — that is, they spend most of their lifetime high up in the branches of their favorite trees. From there, they are visible mostly as black blobs, usually hidden by dense foliage.

Fortunately, however, there are times when some lucky person encounters one of these fascinating creatures in the lower branches of a tree alongside a road or hotel. This is when it can be helpful to know a few basic facts about howler biology.

Why Monkey throwing poop makes sense, lol

Mainly, these monkeys are basically defenseless. They rely on their tree habitat for protection from ground predators. Sometimes their only defense when sensing a threat is to throw poop at the offending party!

Case in point: Some years ago, while walking to town from home, I encountered a young couple excitedly looking up into the lower branches of a roadside tree. In it, maybe 40 or 50 feet off the ground, was a sizeable troop of about a dozen howlers in scattered position. Lowest of them all was a large alpha male, the obvious troop leader.

Monkey Poop began to rain
down in earnest.

What an amazing Kodak moment this young couple had happened upon! The boyfriend, his expensive 35mm SLR camera all set for a great picture, was standing directly beneath this now obviously very agitated howler.

I warned him and his companion to step away from this direct line of fire, and what to expect if they did not. His girlfriend and I retreated to the other safe side of the road to watch. Mr. Macho, however, decided his up-close-and-personal shot was worth the risk.

Boss howler was having none of this nonsense! He sounded off the legendary howl, audible from more than a mile away. Then the whole troop chimed in and sounded off … quite the spectacle!

Bombs Away

But the show was not over. Poop began to rain down in earnest. The gal and I were safe, but boyfriend was the bullseye. As he peered up through his viewfinder, a particularly impressive chunk of poop — probably at closest range from the just-overhead alpha male, hit the camera lens dead center and splattered boyfriend’s face to boot!

Amid howls of laughter and shouts of “The man told you so!” from his girlfriend, macho man ran for us and safety. His face was red with anger and embarrassment.

Luckily, girlfriend had a pack of tissue wipes so we were able to clean up her partner’s face and camera somewhat. The howlers headed off to “greener pastures” and we took a moment to introduce ourselves before heading on down the road together to Pasatiempo. There, I bought us all beers and boyfriend became more presentable after a trip to the restroom

Tamarindo’s newest visitors would have quite a story for the folks back home about their howler sighting … one she would insist on telling everyone and he would try to forget as soon as possible. I always wondered, how did those pics turn out?

Moral of this tale: Take the advice of a local. Don’t piss off the original residents!