Looks To Die For: Beautiful and Posionous here at Paradise Gardens. Part One: Devil’s/Angel’s Trumpet

1 06 2010

Paradise Gardens was originally designed as a personal home and gardens. A pretty spectacular home and gardens but personal anyway. And the designers/builders didn’t envision having animals running all around the place. So there are some poisonous plants here.

Today a couple came who had helped Paul and Jenny build this place and they took the time to point out all the poisonous plants. Many we had already known about. Devils Trumpet I learned about in Ecuador and then again in Colombia. Wikipedia says that its official name is Brugmansia and the proper nickname is Angels Trumpet.  In Ecuador and Colombia I was warned about teas, candies or powders made from the plant and used as an assistant in theft. Basically once you’ve ingested the plant or the byproduct of it you are completely willing. You loose your “voluntad” or your will, and do anything anyone tells you. It goes like this: some nice old lady offers you a candy on the bus, you accept. You eat it, you don’t remember anything after this, you wake up in the hospital or on the street, or you don’t wake up. If you do wake up what you don’t remember is this: the nice old lady asked you for all your jewelry and your wallet and you gave it to her. She asked you to take her to the bank and close down your account so she could have all the money in it. You did. Then she asked if you would take her to your house and give her your computer, your mom’s jewelry, your brothers ipod. You think all this is a great idea (or maybe you don’t think at all) and give all your things away. Then she leaves, leaving you wondering around clueless and will-less, victim to anyone who comes by before the drugs wear off. Or so they say. Wikipedia says that Angels Trumpet (so called because the flowers look like trumpets) is used for shamanic highs… I met someone who made themselves a tea of it (I’m not sure what part of the plant but apparently all parts are toxic and contain the intoxication inducing tropane alkaloids and atropine) and the “shamanic high” they got was awful. He said he would never want to go it again. But according to locals you can put a flower under your pillow to have wacky dreams.

Dangerous beauty: the Angels Trumpet here in Paradise Gardens Aviary

Anyway, the point of all this being: it’s a super strong toxic plant. And although some people use it to get high it’s not highly recommended (hehe… highly recommended… get it?). It is toxic to animals too. And maybe even more so. Consider the size of the monkeys here. Not big. Imagine if this plant can kill a human, or make a human nutty. Then what would it do to a capuchin? And the capuchin’s are the ones we are worried about here. If you pick a flower and are walking by Billy and Monty’s cage they will snatch it from you in an instant. And then chew on it. And we take Manolo out to play all around the gardens. The main things he likes to do are pull peoples hair, jump on your head and put things in his mouth. Anything small enough, especially flowers and shiny things, goes straight into the mouth. He is like an infant except he has sharp teeth and can run and climb. You may be able to “child-proof” your house by putting the glass things up high, the small bits and peices – the chokeable things – in cabinets or on top of the fridge but there is no way to monkey-proof the gardens. And then once he gets something (I had left a chocolate kiss on the table once, instantly into his mouth) it is much harder to get it away from him than a baby. First off he can jump up on top of things (namely trees and buildings) that you just cant get too. Imagine an infant with spider man building jumping skills. Also, even if you can get a hold of him, he is not above biting people to keep his trinkets and keep them in his mouth. So anyway, today we spent learning a little more, from the experts who planted this garden as well as Wikipedia and Google, about the deadly plants we have here. More to come soon…

Manolo wants this orange from a tree in the aviary. He couldn't get it down.

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Manolo, baby white faced capuchin

24 05 2010

Manolo arrived here about two months ago. He was a tiny baby and had a cut on his lip. This is the story we heard from the woman who brought him here, rewritten in his own voice for his introduction here at Paradise Gardens Wildlife Rescue.

Manolo when he arrived. As babies capuchin monkeys cling to their mothers backs so when he was first brought to Pardise Gardens Manolo was quite clingly to the volunteers who cared for him.

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Hello! My name is Manolo!

I am a white faced capuchin monkey. I’m from Bocas del Toro. As an infant, pet poachers threw stones at my troop in an attempt to get us babies to fall down so they could steal us as pets. I was hit in the face and fell off my mothers back. A nice lady saw me fall and scared the poachers away. We waited and waited but my mother never came back. I was too small to survive on my own so the nice lady brought me here to Paradise Gardens. I was bottle fed until I was big enough to eat fruits and veggies on my own. Now I will live at Paradise Gardens. When I am old enough I will move in with Monty and Billy, the older capuchin monkeys that also live here. Since we live in troops of 10-35 in the wild my caretakers are trying to figure out how we can be safely integrated into a troop and released. It may be difficult since wild capuchins are likely to kill strange males that approach their troops. I live for 45 years in captivity and 15-40 in the wild.

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Here is the information we had posted before along with Monty and Billy, our other two capuchins who have been here 3 and 4 years:

The capuchins are considered the most intelligent New World monkeys. The white faced Capuchin is named after the order of Capuhin friars: The cowls worn by these friars closely resemble the monkey’s head coloration. The range of the capuchin monkeys includes Central America (Honduras) and middle South America (middle Brazil, eastern Peru, Paraguay)

Capuchins are active during the day and spend most of their time in trees. With the exception of a midday nap, they spend their entire day searching for food. At night they sleep in the trees, wedged between branches. Among the natural enemies of the capuchins are large falcons, cats and snakes.

Manolo eating a banana (his favorite food) in the trees

The diet of the capuchin is more varied than other monkeys. They are omnivores, eating not only fruits, nuts seeds and buds, but also insects, spiders, bird eggs and small vertebrates. Capuchins living near water will also eat crabs and shellfish by cracking their shells with stones.

Among the best known monkeys, the white-faced capuchin is recognized as the typical companion to the organ grinder and for the role of “Marcel” in the popular television series Friends. It is a highly intelligent breed of monkey and has been trained to assist for paraplegic persons.