Needed! Managing volunteer(s) for the summer

21 06 2010

Paradise Gardens’ current volunteer managers need a break. Jen and Ryan haven’t seen their families in more than a year. Time for a trip home to Canada! But who will take care of the animals? YOU??

Jen and Ryan would like to visit family for the month of August. They would love love love if someone (or some two friends or a couple or even a whole family) would come and take over for them for the month. It would require that person/people to arrive in July and have a week or two of training and then take over. There would be several long-term, experienced volunteers here helping you out, but they work in Boquete and are only here mornings. Although we usually have at least two full-time volunteers it is possible that you will be solo for the weekends.

You will have the upstairs of the house to live in (2 bedrooms and a bathroom) and the downstairs will be yours unless there are other long-term volunteers in which case you would share the kitchen and living room with them.

Your responsibilities would include feeding baby animals (we have a baby monkey and a baby coati a the moment, but may receive more at any time). During the week the animal feedings will be taken care of by Benjamin, Saturdays and Sundays you will be responsible for feeding all of the animals. You will be responsible for caring for any sick or injured animals, greeting guests, and coordinating other volunteers. You will need to take care of any emergency maintenance of the park (broken cages, etc) but it is unlikely that there will be many maintenance duties for you. We also have a handyman volunteer you can call for any emergencies, and who comes regularly on Thursdays.

Please please please email or call if you are interested and think this might work with you!! or call 507 6657 5555.


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.


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.


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.

New Arrivals! Three Baby Possums!

23 05 2010

Yesterday someone called from Boquete. “We have three baby possums for you, the mother was killed by a dog.” Three hours later a local couple arrived with a box of three tiny possums. Apparently when they are born possums are no bigger than a honey bee. These ones were much bigger than a bee, or any insect I’ve seen around here. I would say they were about the size of the tarantulas I saw between Boquete and Bocas del Toro. So about the size of my hand.

Orphaned Opossums

The three baby possums in their faux pouch

There were two girls (you can tell because they have pouches, at this stage their genitals all appear about the same) and one boy. Opossum liters range from one to 13 and we don’t know if these were the only three in the liter or if there were others. Since their mother had been mauled and carried off by a dog it is possible that there were other babies that were still in her pouch and carried off with her. Of the three we got they had only minor injuries from the dog attack. One had an eye popped out, probably from being squeezed too hard either in the jaws of the dog or underfoot (either stepped on by the dog or by the mother possum, it has been known that baby possums die from their mothers accidently treading on them). Another one needed a small stitch in her back left side, probably scratched by the dog, and the third, a boy was doing just fine. They were all very cold. We discovered that the normal body temperature for opossums was around the body temperature of human and that babies need help to maintain that temperature. Normally opossums grow until they can walk in their mothers pouches, like a kangaroo. This keeps them warm in the wild but in the case of orphan opossums raised by humans we have to resort to other methods. We wrapped them in a fleece blanket and put an electric heating pad under their box. An hour later they were warm and moving around a little, although mostly to try and borough deeper into the folds of the fleece. The veterinarian we had called came and stitched up the girl with the back wound (she only needed one stitch!). The girl with the popped out eye had to have her eye snipped off so that she could heal. Luckily she didn’t even seem to feel it.

Baby possums diet

Baby opossum gets her syringe of formula

Now they need very close attention and are fed every 2-3 hours. Once they can stand and walk on their own they will be able to start taking solid food, like mashed up egg and fruit. The boy is already trying to walk around, so he’ll be getting some mashed fruit soon! We hope once they are strong enough they can even start playing with Arjento, our baby coati.
Many people have said “Why are you rescuing an opossum? They are such pests!” They get into garbage, hiss loudly (even as babies) and are considered ugly. But the truth is opossums are pretty awesome animals. They have “semi-prehensile” tails (like monkeys and kinkajous they use their tails for climbing and holding things) and they are the largest marsupials in the western hemisphere. They are immune to the venom of pit vipers and they are eight times less likely than stray dogs to have rabies.They are omnivorous and solitary, and they are considered the “trashmen” of the natural world. They will eat almost anything… fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, bugs and dead animals. In North America they are known for eating roadkill. They are important for cleaning up the carrion in their natural environments as well. In truth though, even if they were not extremely cool, we would take them in. Paradise Gardens is a wildlife rescue, we don’t just rescue the “cute” or “beautiful,” “rare” or “expensive” animals. We do our best to rescue all animals that are in need.
These baby opossum orphans are an illustration of why humans need to be responsible for their dogs. Dogs off their leashes loosed on the native wildlife can wreak havoc. These baby ‘possums are not the only dog-induced orphans we have here, and we also have several adult animals that survived dog attacks and came here to recover, if they can. Feral dogs are a threat not only to humans but they also threaten wildlife.

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.