Travel Magazine


By Aswesawit @aswesawit

Once upon a time, a family adopted an ocelot cub because it was so cute. Unfortunately, they seemed to forget that babies grow up. Maybe it decided to sharpen its claws on their sofa once too often or got a little too rough in its play, or maybe it was just too expensive to feed.  Whatever the reason, it became too much to handle so they brought it to AmaZOOnia, an animal rescue center in Ecuador’s Amazon region.

AmaZoonias 01998 M AmaZOOnia

While we were at Cotococha Lodge we had an opportunity to visit AmaZOOnia. We headed down the Napo River in a “canoe” (um, really? It has a motor and a roof and can carry 20 people…) to get there. Were it not for our guide and the sign we’d never have known it was there.

After we disembarked we climbed some stairs to the welcome center, which is basically small building holding a ticket office and small gift shop. The reserve makes a little money from this but not enough to support itself.  It survives through donations from all over the world and volunteer labor.

Our tour guide, a volunteer from Germany, told us that although AmaZOOnia’s goal is to release all animals back into the wild, by the time they arrive at the center, approximately a third of the animals are in such bad condition that they don’t survive. Of the animals that do live, half are so used to being cared for that they will have to remain in captivity. Usually it’s because their senses have become dulled through disuse or because they are no longer afraid of people. The remaining animals can be rehabilitated and released into the wild.

As we passed the various cages she told us about the animals inside. Most of them were sad stories: clipped wings so birds could never fly again, abandoned pets, rescued from poachers, found injured along the road.

Here are a few of the animals we saw there. Unfortunately, some were hiding, like the kinkajou and anaconda.

AmaZoonias 01974 M AmaZOOnia

These Scarlet Macaws have broken wings. When they are healed they will be released back to nature.

AmaZoonias 01973 M AmaZOOnia

This Toucan was a pet and now cannot be released. For this beautiful guy, life is now in a cage.

AmaZoonias 01977 M AmaZOOnia

This caiman was once a pet and has now lost its sense of smell. Not good for a hunter.

AmaZoonias 01981 M AmaZOOnia

Capybara are the largest rodents. This guy got used to people, a danger for all wildlife.

The Amazon is home to a small wild pig called a peccary.  AmaZOOnia raises them and sells them to the locals.  They appreciate the income but their ultimate goal is to get them to stop hunting for them. They are an important part of the food chain for the big cats. It’s an uphill battle because it’s so new, but they have been making progress: Recently three were purchased for a wedding banquet.  

Would you eat a peccary?

AmaZoonias 01985 M AmaZOOnia

Dan took a few more photos.  You can see them in our Amazoonia photo album and even vote for your favorites. Please tell us what you think!

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