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iSUR Journal Part 4: Amazon Shelter

January 2, 2011

Therany, my guide, with Pepe the red howler monkey


We arrived at Amazon Shelter this morning and were greeted by a red howler monkey named Pepe. He ran up to us much like a happy dog and led us to the lodge. Amazon Shelter is run by a woman named Magali – she has a rehabilitation center, a lodge, and a beautiful piece of forest. She moved to the Puerto Maldonado area from Lima about four years ago to start the shelter and now has over 20 animals to care for. The animals range from a koati to macaws to a red brocket deer. And they could not ask for a more loving and caring guardian.

Magali sat with us over a cup of coffee while rubbing the belly of Pepe the monkey. She would intermittently turn to Pepe and whisper sweet words. She talks to all of the animals like they understand her and it is incredibly endearing. She told us the history of the project and talked about the challenges and lessons learned. It takes a strong woman to take in a puma and learn how to care for it.

We took a tour of the property with Thomas, one of her volunteers. He is from Australia and is working at Amazon Shelter for six days during his time in Madre de Dios. Magali has volunteers on an off, but her goal is to staff the shelter with 10 volunteers per month. It is a great opportunity to work with animals and to learn about the struggles of caring for a diverse bunch of wild creatures. Thomas seemed to be having a ball.

While we were visiting Magali got news that she would receive a new Titi monkey. This leads to a flurry of activity. They have a special area called the “quarantine area” for new animals. Magali has visitors at the shelter and new animals aren’t adjusted to the movement of many people. The monkey will have a new shelter in a quiet part of the forest. Each animal also has a very specific diet. The list is incredible – one boiled egg, three leaves of lettuce, one beet, half a papaya – and that is just for a single species.

For Magali, it is a labor of love. I know this because she was tired today from having taken blankets to the monkeys in the night because it was cold.

I spent a peaceful night in the lodge and enjoyed listening to the animals with a red howler monkey curled up in my lap as I lay in a hammock on the porch.


Night Monkey

Magali, the owner, petting a red brocket deer

Volunteers preparing food for the animals

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