Dear friends of Esperanza Verde,
We sincerely hope that our letter reaches you and your family safe and in good health during this difficult time. The current situation affects life on the whole planet and changed the way we live and COVID-19 measures continue all over the globe. While travel restrictions and social distancing was implemented by various countries, our local village of Bello Horizonte initially continued, although cautiously, living their normal lives. Within a week everything changed, and measures evolved until a complete public shutdown was announced in Peru. Even alternating gender days for essential business where established (one day only women and the next day only men were allowed e.g. to go shopping) and national as well as international travel came to a stillstand.
With a time-consuming cooperation of foreign consulates, volunteers and EV representatives, we arranged passage for 8 volunteers to return home to Europe. Not an easy task when communication is limited, and the next major city is three hours away.
The world may be in crisis, yet life at EV continues and our onsite team and those in support roles around the world (often unmentioned but always appreciated!) remain strong and focussed on working for the Peruvian wildlife.
The dependence of the animals on the volunteers and staff is on-going and still at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
To an extent life is simplified at EV. Contact with the outside world is limited and the luxuries brought from across the river have stopped. Transport is very limited and at times non-existent. Yet basic groceries arrive intermittently up to now. The team moral remains strong, with many believing we are fortunate to be “stranded” in paradise.
April was a busy month in monkey movements, and it appears all enclosures had “action” in one form or another.
We could release the monkeys from Lulu enclosure last month. Ezra (young female Spixs white fronted capuchin) remained hesitant to vacate the premises while Daytona (young female large headed capuchin monkey) and Tonka (male Andean saddleback Tamarin) readily accepted freedom.
Taking advantage of Ezra’s hesitance, the decision was made to bring Alu (male Andean Saddleback Tamarin) and Shimi (Squirrel Monkey), who had both completed their quarantine period, into the Lulu enclosure to bond with the existing monkeys. All of them were successfully released after a week. Ezra is now adapting very well together with Daytona and Tonka, whereas Alu stayed around for another day before disappearing into the wild. And Shimi…well he seems to prefer confinement over freedom (read on to find out about his plans).
Freedom was also experienced again by Rimaq, Lucio (male spider monkeys) and Kres (female large headed capuchin monkey). Kres continues to take advantage of any moment of inattention and proved this after a door was not correctly locked. Douwe was quick to react and managed to get both spider monkeys back to the enclosure, showing how calmness and experience is required in these situations. Kres meanwhile had let herself into Elmo enclosure (with the macaws) and could be seen having a lot of fun eating their food and playing within their water bowl. Olivia used her experience to calmly catch Kres and return her to the correct locality.
Rimaq enclosure security was again put to the test later in the month when Shimi appeared within the enclosure, often attached to the back of Kres or one of the boys. A quick inspection showed that tree had grown through the mesh and enlarged the holes around it. A quick repair and removal of the squirrel monkey: Problem solved. If it just would have been that easy… Shimi somehow found his way back to accompany Rimaq, Lucio and Kres and appears more than comfortable in his new situation. So, for now we decided to leave him with his choice.
Having regained over ten percent of his body weight Moyo (male Humboldts Woolly monkey) was released from Tupak this month and can be seen returning to his normal behaviour. We continue to monitor his behaviour for any indications of a relapse.
Hope is one thing you should never loose, and this month proved it yet again. Otis, the male Ma’s night monkey) which nearly always in the company of Luna (female Ma’s night monkey), had not been seen for nearly a week. Many started to believe the worst but Otis returned without any harm after his extended rainforest trip.
Our youngest night monkey, Kira now finally is in an outside enclosure (Lucia). Although very different to her previous experience at EV, Kira is adapting well and both Luna and Otis have been seen being interested in her from outside the enclosure.
Kassai (our baby southern tamandua) is still living with the family at the managers house but has been moved into a bigger cage with feeding times now being stretched. Termites are occasionally added to her diet, but she hasn’t yet realised the benefits of catching her own food. Overall Kassai is doing well and we are looking forward to her growing up.
Another animal moving enclosures this month was Chosko (kinkajou) who moved from Tiliku to the newly vacated Tupak enclosure. By moving him there we will have enough physical distance to the territory of Kiko and Kila (our resident male and female kinkajous). The hatch on Tupak will be opened in the next few weeks allowing Chusko to come and go at his own will.
Sadly, this month we said goodbye to another of our favourite characters. Zasu (dusky headed parakeet) was found dead in Igor enclosure. Because he was hand-raised he had no fear of humans and anybody who has done any work in Igor will have had interaction with Zasu who often landed on your shoulder and picked at jewellery or hair.
Freedom was always the plan for Katara (razor billed curassow). She was initially released within the fenced area around the family house with the possibility to come and go as she pleased. After nearly 3 weeks Katara became more adventurous, was seen at the quarantine and then disappeared into the wild.
SUST Animal Orphan Hospital
Kiko (male kinkajou) was found with injuries after fighting with other kinkajous. After a surgical operation Kiko was returned to his former home in Tiliku enclosure for regeneration, medication and observation. After some time Kiko had been recovered nicely and was released back into the wild.
Rumani (crab eating raccoon) is occasionally sighted at either his own feeding table or near Tiliku enclosure at the kinkajou feeding table. On one occasion Rumani was seen limping. He was caught in the front-cage of Tiliku and caught by Douwe (have you ever tried to catch an eight and a half kilo raccoon?) in his usual style and finesse. Rumani is now recovering within the SUSAOH from a broken foot.
Ashanti (Scarlet Macaw), Upendi and Inuka (yellow crowned amazon parrots) have moved to the front cage of Elmo enclosure, where all three birds now have the room to spread their wings. Ashanti is still getting syringe fed twice a day but is also gaining confidence in eating herself.
Mojita and Margarita (female agoutis) were introduced to each other in one cage within the clinic for a week, before being moved together into Rincay enclosure joining the large yellow footed tortoises. Both agoutis can release themselves from the enclosure which is perceived as a soft release, giving them the security of an enclosure and on-going food-supply along with the freedom to come and go as they please.
Kapa (female Paka) moved from the clinic to the Momo enclosure and is doing very well. We plan to release Kapa in early May. Both Kapa and Sakura (the older female paka) sleep beside each other, although on different sides of the mesh, so we don’t expect any compatibility issues.
Kaira (female Red howler monkey) joined the rest of our howlers into Arana enclosure. After a few weeks she was able to join them in daily freedom outside the cage. Kaira is a monkey who has had a lot of contact with humans so adjustment can take a lot longer. Volunteers and staff are keeping a close eye on Kaira to ensure she continues to progress as expected.
Zola (young female red uakari) was another monkey that moved into Lulu enclosure. Zola appeared to be adapting well to life outside and joined the other monkey species in Lulu. Unfortunately she developed serious symptoms and was taken to the SUSTAOH for treatment and monitoring. Beside the intensive care she passed away the same day. A sad loss, and an important reminder of what can happen when animals are taken from their natural environment.
With travel inside of Peru being basically impossible, it is safe to say the SUSTAOH is looking slightly empty.
There were no new arrivals this month, but we are preparing ourselves for new arrivals when restrictions are eased.
Construction and other
Volunteer assistance has been limited leaving the burden of construction solely on Douwe and Geiler’s, fitting this in between routine repairs and other daily requirements.
Pedro enclosure (for the margays) was finished this month along with a tunnel connecting it to Zambo enclosure. Both Grety and Diego now have twice the space to explore and play in, often being seen running between both enclosures.
Quarantine continues to progress. Now we are working on finer details that take the extra time, with all doors and cage partitions being installed this month, along with the lion’s share of kitchen tiling completed.
What do volunteers do when on lockdown in paradise?
A lot! April was a month that saw birthdays, movie nights on the big screen (15” 🙂 ), a quiz night, a Kayla created buffet at the family house and Easter even snuck up on us.
Easter was a real treat with an egg hunt at the waterfall and a culinary delight special lunch created by both Olivia and Kayla, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
The effort being made by everyone to make the most of lockdown is not only admirable, but an incredible experience.