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28 06 2010

Look to the right of the screen! There is a new button, it says “Sign me up!” If you love Paradise Gardens, if you like reading about Paradise Gardens, if you love animals and rescue animals and reading about and seeing pictures of animals, click “Sign me up!” and follow the instructions for signing up. This will give you periodic email updates on what has been going on on this blog. And since you’re already reading this, I know you want to know!





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!





Introductions Galore: Athena, the jaguarundi kitten

4 06 2010

Remember, I mentioned last week that we were writing new introductions for all the animals? We prettied them up and posted them on all the enclosures so people could read about the animals as they saw them. We are also working on a new guidebook as the one we have now is very out of date, many of the animals in it have been released or passed away and we have many new animals that are not mentioned in it.

But while we are working on that I will share with you a few more of the introductions we have written up…

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Hestia, the calico kitten and Athena, the jaguarundi cub, asleep on their perch.

Hi! My name is Athena!

I am a jaguarundi, a relative of the Ocelot and Jaguar, just a little smaller.

A farmer near Boquete was plowing his land for a new field and accidentally ran over my den. When he noticed that he had run over my den he immediately stopped the tractor and turned off his headlights. My mother had carried off my other brothers and sisters (we were too small to walk) but she was too scared to come back for me. The farmer waited nearby watching to be sure no other animals hurt me but my mother didn’t come.

The next day the farmer took me to Paradise Gardens. At first I had to be bottle fed but now I eat raw meat. I will be released when I am bigger so I need as little human contact as possible. Please don’t talk to me or come close to my cage! Since I have no human interaction I have 2 house kittens as companions. They are older than me and we play together. We are also learning to hunt by chasing mice in the aviary. We have caught a few. Luckily we are small enough that we can’t catch the birds (although we’d like to!).

When I grow up I will be a solitary hunter until I am a mother. Then I will be a caring mother and feed my young until I have taught them to hunt on their own. I will live 10 to 20 years.

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Athena is growing much bigger and more fierce now, although she is still smaller than the kittens she lives with. They are all becoming fierce hunters and although the kittens are faster and more adept Athena is fiercer. She will go after birds without hesitation whereas the kittens are cautious, and she dominates the food bowl… the kittens don’t get to eat until Athena has chosen her piece of meat and dragged it off.  However Athena is also very attached to her kitten friends (they are named Artemis and Hestia) and she cries when they are both out of the cage. Her cry is this tiny peep, again and again, not at all like a cat’s meow. It’s earned her the nickname “Peeps.”





Volunteering makes the turtles happy!

2 06 2010

Volunteer Eddie repairing the second turtle pond

As you know, if you have seen our “About us” page, Paradise Gardens is completely run by volunteers. I am a volunteer. I sweep up the gardens in the morning and update the blog at night. I help feed the animals, give tours, chat with the birds, scratch Sam’s head and Lottie’s back. But do you know how many volunteers it takes to run this place? At least four. Jen is here all the time, she’s the resident volunteer. She’s the manager. Then there are usually 2-4 other people staying here and volunteering 40+ hours a week. Some of us (me!) are travelers who found this place and loved it so we stuck around. Some people come to Panama looking just to volunteer. Some are soon-to-be vets or animal management professionals or students with a love for animals. Some people stay for one month, some stay for six. And then there are the daily volunteers who stay in town, whether they are travelers or locals or expats, living here or just staying at Mamallena’s or studying spanish at the two spanish schools here. And then there are several long term volunteers who live here and have been volunteering here for years. They come once or twice a week and are a wealth of knowledge about the place and the animals.

So basically I’m saying… Paradise Gardens needs volunteers. We need you! If you’re hanging around Boquete, free time on your hands and want to help some animals, come volunteer here! If you need a place to stay, we can help you out. If  you have skills, we can use them. If you have no money, that’s ok, it’s free to volunteer here. Call or email or just come by! We want you!

Volunteering makes the turtles happy! See those smiles?!





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.





Moving Day!

26 05 2010

Yesterday several of our babies got new homes here at Paradise Gardens!

The possums, as our newest arrivals had been in the nursery (aka the laundry room) for their first week here. But they are beginning to be able to crawl, and they are not needing as much help anymore with pooping, so we decided it was time they had a bigger enclosure as soon as possible. That way they could have some play space when they are ready to play, they could learn to climb and even hunt bugs we put it. The nursery was altogether too small for them to grow much more in. There are always a few empty enclosures around Paradise Gardens, either babies that have gotten big enough to move into a larger enclosure, animals that have been released, or animals that have been switched (for example, soon we will be able to put Manolo in with the other two Capuchin monkeys, Monty and Billy and they will all go into a larger enclosure freeing up two small ones).

There was an empty enclosure perfect for the baby possums. It had been the home of Argento the Coati when he was smaller but he had since been moved into a larger enclosure on the porch where he could run and climb more. His old cage was pretty much perfect for the opossum babies for two reasons: one, it was big enough for them to play and grow for at least another month, maybe two, but not too big for them to get lost in now while they are still so tiny, and two, its in a corner where people don’t go as often and where its a little darker and quieter. They will be able to sleep all day long and wake up and play at night, like they would in the wild!

Possum orphans new home here at Paradise Gardens

We put a box and a blanket for them to sleep in their new enclosure, a few branches and boxes for them to climb and play on, and a plate of milk and banana. They haven’t been eating on their own yet but we thought they might be ready, so we only fed them once in the morning, once in the afternoon and then left our the milk and banana overnight. As nocturnal animals we hoped they would wake up and eat up in the night, while we were asleep. In the morning Jen checked their milk and banana plate… and it was all gone! And they didn’t seem interested in the milk we usually give them first thing in the morning, so it seems they are adjusting to eating almost completely on their own. Now we will need to catch bugs so they can learn to catch and eat those.

We had two other big moves yesterday. The kittens have been too big for their cage for a week or two now, they had room to crawl and climb and jump but not to all out run. We had somewhat remedied this by getting them out into the aviary from eight to ten every morning, before guests arrived, and letting them run, chase each other, perhaps maybe someday actually catch a mouse. And we had a new enclosure in mind for them, we just had to get it ready. There were some holes in the mesh wiring that had to be repaired, and then we used black mesh fabric, saved from a destroyed trampoline, to block the kittens (and jaguarundi cub, of course) from view. This way visitors touring Paradise Gardens wont be tempted to talk to the kittens of stick their fingers in and pet them. And the kittens wont have a view of people. It not important for the two house kittens but for the jaguarundi it is essential that he get as little exposure as possible to humans. If he is too accustomed to humans he is likely to approach them in the wild expecting them to provide food or shelter, and instead be killed or injured. Humans are the biggest threat that exists for large wild cats, both because we are their main predators and because of the habitat loss incurred by human settlement and consumption.

The kittens new enclosure... only visible from inside their old enclosure and perfect for climbing, running, playing and learning to hunt!

These tarps protect the Jaguarundi and the kittens from seeing people... unless those people are over 9 feet tall!

Inside of the kittens and jaguarundi's new enclosure: plenty of room for running and climbing!

Our third rehoused animal was Arjento, our baby white-nosed coati. He had been at first in the possums new enclosure, then in another enclosure near the house but larger and with more light. But he is getting to be a great climber and is so active, he needed more space. We moved him into a larger and very tall enclosure out by the garage. It is important that he has a tall cage as he is a tree climber in the wild and he does love to climb, so now his new cage is about nine feet high.

Inside of Arjento the coatis new enclosure.





Our Mission

25 05 2010

Paradise Gardens’ Mission

Volunteers painted this sign at the entryway to Paradise Gardens Wildlife Rescue

Paradise Gardens is a group of animal loving volunteers whose mission is to rescue, provide sanctuary for, and if possible, ultimately release back into the wild , abandoned, abused, and injured animals. By involving and educating the community, Paradise Gardens works to raise awareness of the tremendous effort it takes to care for animals that have been failed by humans, in such ways as illegal trade, deforestation, cruelty and ignorance on the part of humans.

Our vision is to create a world where the animals we share it with are treated with respect and understanding and where habitat is preserved to ensure the indefinite survival of these creatures. In creating such a world, we hope the same principles will carry over into the way humans treat each other.