New Video: Rescue Tucan, Since Released

13 07 2010

Just found this video on YouTube. Before I arrived here the two toucans that lived here were main attractions. This particular guy was released in La Fortuna Reserve by Lost and Found Ecolodge. We’ve released several toucans there and by Alouatta Lodge with the howlers, but we don’t have any here at the moment. They are a bit difficult to keep here on the property – they need a lot of space, so ideally the aviary would be a good spot for them. But unfortunately they eat other birds, usually babies in nests, so we can’t put them in the aviary. Like with most animals, each one that comes in we have to re-examine all the cages and figure out where they best fit in.

Thanks, minubeviajes, for posting this video!

P.S. This is a keel-billed toucan, common to the coastal areas of Panama, sometimes seen around Boquete but not often.

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A day in paradise

13 07 2010

My decision to travel to Panama happened by default. I had taken a 35 foot fall while rock climbing in Yosemite National Park, which resulted in a contusion to my left foot and thus out me on crutches. Having been proudfully conquered, I returned home and began to ponder alternatives. “Hmmm, I’ve been wanting to travel and improve my Spanish,” I said to myself. Of course, this was the opportunity I needed. I almost always go climbing as a first option, thus I’d postponed such a culture and language-rich voyage. Somehow too, I thought I would be able to see monkeys and bright birds in a jungle thick rain forest. How I was going to do that was undetermined, nevertheless, it was a dream of mine. Plus, Panama was more affordable than Costa Rica and cost less to fly there. Plans were hatched with Habal Ya Spanish School and I was on my way!

When I arrived, (taking buses and taxis straight to Boquete), one of my taxi drivers told me about “un refugio para los animales,” explaining that I could see monkeys and other animals there. He of curse said the key word and that was all I needed to hear. The very next day, I went  to check it out for myself. It was a Sunday and they’re typically closed then, but by the graces of Jen, they let me in. I had a thorough briefing by a helpful and obviously enthusiastic volunteer (thanks Fidel!) and then was off to discover Paradise.

I began to walk down a little corridor with beautiful green hanging vines and delicate white flowers. I rounded a corner and was pleasantly surprised to have my first ever face to face encounter with a Capuchin Monkey.  The little guy was in a nicely constructed shelter, with plenty of room. In it were big branches, a wooden box he seemed to like to play on, a tree house, a small and bright hanging toy and plenty of green matter. The flora was so nice all around me that I thought I was literally in the jungle! I stayed with the monkey, who’s cage had a sign in front explaining that he’d been rescued from an unfortunate situation and that his name was Manolo. I was scared at first at how he’d react to me, but he kept coming over inquisitively and turned his back to me as if he wanted me to reach through the chicken wire walls and scratch his back. I nervously stuck my finger in there and was relieved when he didn’t bite it off. Then Manolo turned around and grabbed my finger with his soft black hand and held it like a child would.

That’s when I fell in love with Paradise gardens! I stayed with Manolo for two hours, then walked around taking photos and introducing myself to the other animals for another couple of animals. It was amazing to be in a spot that had many of the same animals and vegetation as the jungle, but the guarantee of being able to see them, and all while hobbling around on one foot! That encounter so touched me that I decided immediately to volunteer in the mornings three days a week. Then I could return to this Paradise as long as I was in Boquete, taking my Spanish classes! I don’t know in the end if it was fate or a coincidence that put me here, but I feel really blessed for this amazing opportunity! Me encanta El Jadin Paraiso!





Rest in peace, Antonio

11 07 2010

I’m sad to report that Antonio didn’t make it through the night last night.  We loved him a lot and are all heartbroken over it.

He is a true lesson about the negative impact of the exotic pet trade.  He was taken from his mother at way too young an age by people who thought only about money and cared little about his welfare.  For every healthy and happy pet anteater that makes it to live with a family, dozens of babies like Antonio end up dead.





Another typical day…

8 07 2010
Today has been another exciting day here at Paradise Gardens.
First, some good news.  We gave Athena another chance to eat a mouse and she was victorious!  After playing with it for a little while,she actually ate it.  We also witnessed another important behavior that shows that she is on her way to becoming a wild animal.  When we first released the mouse into her cage, one of her kitty roommates went for it and she actually attacked the kitty and claimed the mouse for herself.  Don’t worry, the kitty wasn’t hurt…just startled.  
The other big excitement of the day was that the lovebird’s cage door was left open and one escaped.  Everyone is very concerned because he could easily become prey to any number of other animals…especially the falcon, who had gone missing this morning and missed her morning feeding.  Of course, the falcon showed up shortly after the lovebird’s escape so there was a stressful few minutes while Jen ran to get the falcon’s breakfast and the rest of us kept a nervous watch on the lovebird.  
This has been a big day for acquiring new animals, too.  First, Jen came home with a little, tiny baby kitty.  Then Ryan came back with a bunny.  Neither of these are the kinds of wild animals that Paradise Gardens is supposed to be acquiring  but they are both adorable.   We just got a phone call that a woman found a baby “ant bear” that was being sold on the side of the road.  We will know in about an hour what exactly it is…anteater?  coati?




Athena – Not quite a huntress

7 07 2010

We decided to work with Athena, the baby Jaguarundi, today on her hunting skills.  We had caught some mice in the aviary which we figured would make great prey for her.  Her kitty friends were released for a morning of freedom so it was a good chance for her to practice her hunting skills without any help from the cats.

We learned that she still needs a LOT more practice!  After 3 mice and a bird, she didn’t actually catch and eat any of them.  She did get some good exercise and had some good fun playing around but in the end, all of the little critters lived to see another day.  If you look closely at the picture you can see the cute little mouse.





Hello from Debbie

7 07 2010
Hi everyone.  My name is Debbie and I am volunteering here for a couple of weeks.  I will be guest blogging while I’m here and hopefully, I will be providing a different perspective from the other bloggers since I’m very new to this kind of volunteering.  We heard about Paradise Gardens months ago from some other travelers that we met on the road in Honduras.  Honduras is 3 countries away but they were still so excited about this place
My husband and I have been here for about 24 hours but thanks to all of the great folks, we feel so comfortable like we have been here for months.  I’m not sure what I was expecting before I arrived but Paradise Gardens has blown me away with the beauty of the gardens, fountains, animals and people.  I could tell within minutes that a ton of love has been put into the facilities and the animals.  Even without the animals this place is really special but, of course, the animals are the stars of the show and they seem to know it.
I spent the day yesterday getting acquainted with everyone and everything here.  I was immediately taken with some of the big personalities…Sam, Minolo, Muffin.  They seem to thrive on human contact and love to show off.  The cats are great, too, but have that typical feline pretentiousness.  They know that they are gorgeous and seem happy to just prance around like supermodels just looking beautiful and fierce.  Ok, so I’m not a cat person….I’ve just always felt that they think that they are better than me.
So far the highlight of the last 24 hours for me has been my one-on-one time with Minolo, the little Capuchin monkey.  I’ve always loved dogs because they really know how to welcome a person.  Minolo gave me the best welcome that I’ve received in months.  He was literally bouncing off the walls with excitement (and my head, my back and my arms).  He christened me with pee and poo but I’m just going to believe that is his way of showing how much he likes me.  That little guy has a ton of energy.  If we could bottle it and sell it, this place would be rolling in money.
Yesterday afternoon was incredibly busy with visitors.  I was told that this was the busiest day that anyone here has seen.  There were over 50 visitors in one day!  I got the crash course on the visitor introduction and had a trial by fire.  I hope I didnt give anyone too bad of information.  I will keep listening to the experts, though, so that in a few days I will be able to give the whole schpeel myself.
……many hours later
I never had a chance to make my post from earlier so I will continue it.  Today was even more exciting than yesterday.  We were full this afternoon with volunteers and the afternoon ended up being incredibly productive.  We finally got access to a ladder and the guys made the most of it clearing out the aviary.  It looks like a completely different place and now guests will be able to actually see the birds instead of just seeing the shrubbery.
They also put some work in on a new, more permanent cage for muffin.
There was more big excitement when someone brought in a tarantula that they rescued from their garden.  It seemed very healthy so we took it down to the ravine for a big release.  At first, it didnt seem to want to leave the safety of the Tupperware but eventually it crawled away.  Hopefully it will be safe and happy in the ravine.
The checklist is almost completely checked off so Jen will be busy tomorrow morning making a new one.




Snake snacks

1 07 2010

Yesterday Arjento, the baby coati, and I went down for some play time in the crimson fronted parakeets’ old cage. He doesn’t really like to play around in new places by himself so I went into the cage with him and sat down. He climbed around my shoulder for a minute, bit my nose, ear and finger, and then decided that the dirt was tastier than I and started burrowing his nose into it.

The cage is full of worms and nuts and rich dirt, but also has several mouse holes, mice burrowing in to get the seeds that the parakeets so carelessly dropped. I sat super still, watching Arjento stick his nose into the dirt and then scrape with his claws until the found something he deemed tasty. And then in a second there was a snake whooshing across the ground straight towards him. I screamed and the snake stopped, I grabbed Arjento and rushed out of the enclosure, ran to the aviary looking for Jen. She had finished the scrubbing and was somewhere else so I kept running, Arjento trying to bite my fingers the whole time. Aren’t animals supposed to have good instincts? Shouldn’t he be a bit more upset that a snake just tried to eat him? No, apparently I was the only one with a racing heart from a near snake attack.

I passed Billy and Monty’s cage. Evan and Eric, two volunteers, were inside rearranging the cage. Earlier in the day Evan had been telling me about snakes, something like the ones we saw here were probably not the dangerous ones and probably just ate the mice. I told them I just saw a snake, and it tried to eat Arjento. They ran down to look for it but it was gone. I described it: grey, bigger than I could encircle with my thumb and forefinger, but not much bigger than that, and long. I didn’t know how long because it was partially covered by grass, but the part I saw was as long as my arm.

After investigating the area around the enclosure they said it was probably just a ratsnake and probably couldn’t eat Arjento anyway. But I know a snake heading for a nice chubby meal when I see one.

Anyway, Arjento is in a new enclosure now, between Limpet, Biscuit and the yet unnamed tamarin on the right and Sam on the left. He gets to play there during the day, he seems to love love love it. And in the mornings and evenings he comes back to his old enclosure and gets to play in the aviary for a few hours. Sans snakes.