Autopsy Results

28 06 2010

Last week was busy. Jojo died on Monday, from what we thought was a spider bite. We found the spiders on Tuesday, two brown recluses. We had moved Mic out of the cage on Monday night, suspecting correctly that the culprit for Jojo’s death might still be at large in the cage. He was in a smaller enclosure, in the garage, all day Tuesday and Wednesday. He was eating, but not eating well, and he wasn’t talking whereas normally he is super talkative. Wednesday afternoon Mic fell off his perch, dead. We had no idea why, but thought maybe we had been wrong about the spider bite and that it had been a virus or bacteria, that killed Jojo and now Mic. We got in touch with several cockatoo experts and rescues and they all said to bring Sam, our third moluccan cockatoo, who had lived right next to Mic and Jojo, inside the house to keep him warm in case he was battling an invisible illness as well. We did that, and kept an eye on Sam. We also started all the birds at Paradise Gardens on a vaccine recommended by several of the vets we talked to.

On Thursday we tried to send Mic and Jojo’s bodies to Panama City for an autopsy to find out what might have killed them and be able to better protect the rest of our birds (and other animals). No go. The airline wouldn’t take dead birds. Friday Jen had to go to Panama City anyway, to renew her passport, so she took the bodies along with her (frozen and on ice). The doctor who looked at their bodies also ran some blood tests and other tests, and we finally heard back today.

Jojo did die of a spider bite, probably the brown recluses that we found under her perch. Mic’s autopsy showed that he had nothing wrong with him. Apparently cockatoos are easily stressed and can die from stress without any other causes or symptoms. And since cockatoos mate for life, Jojo’s death was sure to have caused Mic a lot of stress. Even when Jojo was sick we noticed Mic freaking out, acting strange… but we thought that of course, like anyone who loses a loved one, he would be upset but survive. Apparently not. He died of heartbreak.

RIP Mic and Jojo


New Parakeet Arrival

22 06 2010

Today someone dropped off a brown throated parakeet. They, like the crimson fronted parakeet, are super common here in Panama and we often get them bleached and or with their tails and wings chopped off or broken. This little guy hasn’t had any of that, in fact he doesn’t appear to ever have been a pet. But he is super slow, confused, he got up on his perch but then he fell off again. And he hasn’t eaten, although he did poop. We have no idea what could be wrong with him, but perhaps he ran into a window and was stunned or has a head or internal injury. We will have to wait and see, and hope for the best. Good luck little guy!

Jojo Passes Away

22 06 2010

Last night Jojo, the moluccan cockatoo that has been living with us here at Paradise Gardens, passed away.

We had noticed her acting funny in the morning. She was standing only on her right foot, which is normal, but she was shaking her left foot a bit, in a way that both Jen and I noticed and thought odd. So we kept an eye on her all morning. Around one pm Fidel noticed that she had a dark turquoise liquid dripping from her beak. We went in to see what exactly it was and she threw up more of the liquid. We noticed that there was a pile of sunflower seeds, her favorite food, in the same turquoise liquid underneath her perch and some splattered on her perch. Mic, Jojo’s partner seemed upset, moving around spastically and squawking.

Jen and I searched the cage for any sign of a foreign objects that someone might have put in the cage, or a snake  that could have bit Jojo and found nothing that could have bit her or that she could have eaten. Jen sat and sang to Jojo and Mic, they both calmed down, Jojo swayed a bit to the music and closed her eyes. While Jen was singing and talking to them I did some research. I couldn’t find anything definitive on what would make a moluccan cockatoo have turquoise vomit, or vomit at all. So Jen came out and started calling cockatoo rescues around the world. The one we regularly communicate with was not answering their phone so she began to call everyone we could find a number for. Most people didn’t respond, I guess that is the nature of cockatoo rescues… busy and volunteer staffed, and answering the phone comes second after taking care of the birds.

Jen and I went back to Jojo’s cage, and Jen gave Jojo a peanut. Peanuts are usually one of her favorite foods but this time she held it in her beak but wouldn’t eat it. Jen sat and talked to her a while more. We all checked in on her throughout the afternoon. She seemed stable. No more green vomit. Mic was still agitated, and Jojo didn’t seem well, but she wasn’t getting worse.

In the evening we took the babies (Arjento the white nosed coati and Manolo the capuchin monkey) inside, gave them their bottles and had our own dinners. Jen went out to check on Jojo one more time before going to sleep. She came back inside and asked me to come out with her. At Jojo’s cage I saw Jojo on the ground. Mic was standing on the perch above her, rocking and moving his head backwards and forwards. Jen talked to Mic while I ducked under him to pick up Jojo. She was dead. We took her body out and examined it but found no evidence of any bites, swelling, cuts or other injuries. Only a little turquoise liquid on her beak. We decided it would be best to take Mic out in case whatever had killed Jojo, food or animal, was still in there and a threat to him. We put him in a temporary cage in the garage, our infirmary (the injured tamarin monkey is in there as well) and said goodnight.

In the morning, in the daylight, we went over Mic and Jojo’s cage again. We razed the place, taking out the perches, the ropes and the netting, scraping everything off the ground. Underneath the perch Jojo had been on we found a male and a female brown recluse spider. We think that this is what killed her. Perhaps the spider bit her foot and that was why she was holding her foot funny in the morning. We couldn’t find any information about brown recluse bites on cockatoos, or any spider bites on cockatoos, but in humans recluses can be deadly and the symptoms include vomiting. The time frame seems appropriate as well. If you have any information on spider bites effects on birds, especially brown recluse bites on cockatoos, please comment and share your knowledge with us! We welcome any information you can give us.


Mic is still in his temporary enclosure. He will be moved in with Sam after we keep him in a sort of quarantine for a bit. The thing is, although we are almost sure it was a spider bite that killed Jojo, we are not 100% sure. If it was an illness, bacterial or viral, then Mic could have it as well and just not be showing any symptoms yet. And if we put him in with Sam that would endanger Sam as well. But it is doubtful that this is the case, and for Mic’s sake we sure hope it isn’t. If Mic and Sam get along, which according to the cockatoo experts we’ve talked to, they should, they will be great for each other, entertaining one another all the time. Already, from their adjacent enclosures, they talk back and forth, imitate each other, and Mic has learned to beg for a head scratch (and he gets them!) from the way Sam does it: Say hello, hello, hello, then walk over to the wire and lean his head down pressed just at perfect scratching level for the humans on the other side of the fence.

We will all miss Jojo, we all fell in love with her here and will miss her talking, mumbling and even squawking.

Videos! Howler Monkeys, Baby Sloths and Birdies, Oh My!

19 06 2010

Here are some old videos I just discovered from Paradise Gardens.

So this one is Maisie, a rescued howler Monkey we had, greeting Temba, a baby sloth that was brought here. Sorry about the music! But aren’t the adorable? The have both been released. Maisie is now living on her own at Alouatta Lodge, a lodge and a rescue for howler monkeys and tamarins. She is free to wander around but comes back periodically for food or during thunder storms. She has mated with one of the wild howlers (there are several troops that pass through the area regularly) and has a baby! I met her and her baby when I spent the day at Alouatta and also saw the other rescues and a troop of wild howlers. I also got to see the wild male who was courting her, he kept his distance but followed her from above.

Here is another video, Muffin, who still lives here at Paradise Gardens! The narrator here is definitely right, he loves human attention. He always wants to be on someones shoulder and has learned to imitate whistles and also sometimes imitates the sounds of the geckos we have around here. If he gets close to a dollar bill or a note pad he will do his best to shred it.

I hope you enjoy, I will be looking for and posting more videos!

A day of introductions: Mic and Jojo

20 05 2010

Today we wrote up signs introducing the newest animals and laminated them… and we’ll share some with you! Here is the first one, about Jojo and Mic, our newest Moluccan cockatoos who just joined us here at Paradise Gardens Wildlife Rescue a few weeks ago. We will post picture soon, of both the birds and their new introduction signs! And soon we will get all the other new animals introduced here!

Moluccan Cockatoo Jojo here in her new home at Paradise Gardens, Boquete, Panama


HELLO! I’m Jojo!  And I’m Mic!

We are Moluccan Cockatoos.

We come from Indonesia. We were someone’s pet but they did not takes care of us and from them we learned naughty words. A different couple found out about our mistreatment and brought us to their home. Later that couple decided to move back to the US and wanted to make sure we had a safe home for the rest of our lives so they brought us to Paradise Gardens.  Since we have always been pets and are not native to Panama, we can never be released into the wild.

We live 65-125 years.

Jojo is fairly quiet but still loves to be talked to. Mic is very social and loves talking back. They both love music, so please whistle or sing to them!!


Jojo and Mic (pronounced Mic) are typical of our rescued birds. They are beautiful and expensive but people buy them not realizing how much care they take. Both Jojo and Mic have distinct personalities and capabilities and to be a good caretaker for them requires time, patience and money. Luckily Jojo and Mic were rescued from their first negligent owners by some caring people. But even then they could not take care of them for their full lifespan (100 years is a long time!) which is why they are now living here. Hopefully Paradise Gardens Wildlife Rescue can be Mic and Jojo’s forever home!

A Brief History of Paradise

19 05 2010

Entrance painted by volunteers, Paradise Gardens Wildlife Rescue, Boquete, Panama

In 2002 Paul and Jenny Saban retired to Boquete, Panama from England with their pet cockatoo, Sam, two pet green winged macaws named Dollar and Ruby, a pair of Australian leadbeaters, a pair of Hyacinth Macaws and a pair of pair of pink galahs. Paul and Jenny had been breeders of rare tropical birds in the UK so the birds they had were in breeding pairs except for Sam, the cockatoo. In order to legally import and keep these birds Paul and Jenny applied for a license from ANAM, the Panamanian agency in charge of wildlife and the environment. ANAM was one of the first agencies to agree to the international CITES agreement which control the trading of rare birds in order to prevent poaching and their decline in the wild. Once licensed and living here Paul and Jenny began to convert the orange orchard they were living on into an amazing garden sanctuary for their own birds. Paul, a master stone mason, began work on paths and fountains while Jenny, an avid gardener, brought to life a true paradise of native trees, flowers and bushes. They both had experience in creating gardens in the UK and put there expertise to use here in Boquete, Panama

At the time Panama was lacking in wildlife rescue and rehab centers. Paul and Jenny began to take in birds that had been injured and rehab them. ANAM saw the wonderful work they did and the spaces available for the birds at Paul and Jenny’s and asked them to take in a few more injured birds from the local area. They accepted and built more large cages for scarlet macaws, and hyacinth macaws and a large aviary for smaller birds.

Soon word spread that Paul and Jenny were experts at caring for injured birds and local residents began bringing in other animals… a tiny tamarind that had been separated from his mother, an injured sloth, an ocelot cub too young to survive on its own but too big to stay in their house. Soon Paul and Jenny had a whole garden filled with an ark of different species.

Unfortunately all these animals were expensive to keep. There was the bird seeds, the fruits and nuts and eggs and meat, as well as live mice and chicks for the big cats. And for the animals that arrived due to injury there were the vet bills and the medicines and bandages and syringes (have you ever tried to give a shot to a capuchin monkey? Me neither, but I can only imagine, I mean they’ll steal your glasses off your face and then pee on your head, what would it take to get a needle close to them?!). As retirees Paul and Jenny’s funds were finite and would not infinitely expand to support the influx of animals. So they opened their home to the public, asking for 5 dollars as a entrance fee and any donations that visitors could give. The beautiful grounds earned the name Paradise Gardens. The rehabilitation and release of wild animals has always been the primary goal of Paradise Gardens. We specialize in animals native to the Boquete, Panama area but also take in animals from Bocas del Toro, the Darien and all over Panama.

Two years ago in 2008 Paul and Jenny were involved in a serious car accident. They were forced to return to England with almost no notice and have been unable to return since. The animals, of course, could not leave the country with such short notice. They stayed behind in enclosures and were taken care of by friends and neighbors, volunteers.

With Paul and Jenny back in England for what looked like a permanent stay the property was on the market. The gardens continue functioning supported completely by volunteers who care for the animals and the grounds and donations which cover food and medical expenses for the animals. Several people have come to look at the property but the fact that it is set up as an animal rescue will require a very special buyer with the patience and funds to support the constant in and outflow of animals.