The chattering, white-faced Mono Ti Ti monkey is rapidly disappearing from its jungle habitat along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Development, farming, and tourism have destroyed large chunks of its already circumscribed habitat, and the population has fallen from 5,000 to less than 1,000 during the past 30 years.
Stepping up to the challenge, a well-known ecoresort developer is raising awareness of the monkey’s plight and hopes to save it from extinction. Jim Damalas left UCLA for Costa Rica’s beaches more than 25 years ago. He became deeply involved in building an eco-friendly resort, preserving the environment, and promoting environmentally friendly tourism practices among other Costa Rican hoteliers.
Damalas also pursued a successful career as a Hollywood art director and props manager. His two worlds have converged at his Si Como No resort, a popular getaway for Hollywood insiders.
At local elementary schools, Damalas promoted a program that included instruction from a naturalist about the Ti Ti monkey and threats to its existence, as well as an art contest where the children illustrated their ideas for saving the monkey. Winning pictures were printed on calendars and T-shirts, which he sold at his hotel. The proceeds were returned to the schools for more programs. The original artwork was sold at a star-studded Hollywood auction, and the proceeds will fund a foundation dedicated to saving the Ti Ti.