Saturday, 11 October 2008

The Cat Whisperers

What a month! We ran pumas through the jungle for 5 hours a day, cuddled ocelots, played with monkeys, got bitten by birds, built cages, took down cages, danced at the fancy dress parties til 5am then got up at 7.30 and cleaned VAST amounts of shite.

All the animals of Inti Wara Yassi have been rescued by the charity from circuses, private homes (some people think that a puma is nice to have around the house), black markets and general bad circumstances. The main aim of its work is to give the animals as much freedom and dignity as possible. Some of the birds and monkeys can be released after rehabilitation but unfortunately the cats lose their instincts when removed from their natural environment for too long and would only come looking to people for food if released.
Roy Little baby Luna

Civility went out the window. Same clothes for days on end. A monkey pee´d on Sian and she didn´t wash her cardigan (why bother when they´re just going to pee on you again tomorrow). Socks were banned from the bedroom. The days were long starting at 8am and finishing at 5pm if you´re lucky... Dave pulled an 11 hour day once when his puma Roy wouldn´t get back in the cage for the night. Then there was the day an escaped parrot called Lolita came for dinner... (tasty)

You´re next on the block bird spider monkey family with baby Vladi
A day with Millie the ocelot was a little more sedate for Sian. Climbing the half hour hill to her house was the most challenging part of it. Then a pleasant few hours of sleeping, thumb sucking and the occasional scramble down a vertical cliff when she decided to go "off trail" in pursuit of lizards and snakes. She also found nests of birds and ate the eggs and babies like cat popcorn. Sian also got a day with Luna the 8 month old baby puma when her walker was sick. A far more energetic day´s work!

Millie she loves the thumb Luna
Dave walked 2 mountain pumas (the biggest cats in the park) Roy who LOVED to run for 2 hours non-stop through dense jungle and Lishou who has a more relaxed attitude to life. his favourite thing was to wrestle with palm tree branches and hide behind trees to ambush his volunteers (all in the name of fun). Its an impressive sight when you see 90kg of puma 7 metres up a tree.

Lishou Hiding for an ambush

Chris walked his "beautiful baby girl" the murderous Tigre. She was Millies evil twin, a proper predatory ocelot who liked to run at high speed, never on a trail for 6 hours or more a day. Every day was a bloodbath of baby birds and large snakes which she dispatched of with ease. She has a healthy disrespect for her volunteers but Chris soon sorted her out with a good dose of discipline.

Some mornings and evenings were spent helping understaffed areas finish their work but other times we just went to play with the monkeys :) We also had a brilliant group of people to hang out with for the month and will miss all of them now we´re back to just the 3 of us.

All in all, hard HARD work. Great GREAT fun. We reccomend it to anyone who has a month to spare and wants an unusal holiday.

Now we sit in our luxurious 3 star hotel Monserrat (it has carpets!) planning our journey south to Uyuni and into Argentina. Home in just over a month...

X Sian, Dave and Chris


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