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


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 snakeĀ  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.

Sloth Passes Away

2 06 2010

We are all very sad to announce the Vicegrip our 2 toed sloth passed away on Saturday after a 5 week struggle to recover from a vicious dog attack. I miss her very much, taking care of her was the best part of my day.

Vicegrip in the garden choosing her breakfast

She will be missed by everyone here at the rescue.

Here are some sloth facts…

Sloths are divided into two groups: 2-toed, and 3-toed. Interestingly both groups in fact have 3 toes on each foot, but the 2-toed only has 2 claws on its front feet. Both types of sloth tend to live in the same area. They feed almost entirely on leaves, which contain few calories, so they move slowly to conserve their energy. These interesting animals are under threat from poachers, and risk attack by dogs or other animals.