Sunday, March 19, 2017
Monkeys, Sloths, and Iguana, Oh My!
in a sea turtle's nose or stomach. It's an island.
For the past two days I have posted many pictures of us with sloths, monkeys, iguana and various other wildlife. While it was cool to be able to interact with the animals, the most important part of our visits to the various sanctuaries was seeing the genuine care the staff took of the animals and hearing about the educational and rescue missions on their behalf.
Daniel Johnson's Monkey and Sloth Hangout. The sloths there are not caged, and you can only hold one if they haven't already been held too much that day. There are seven sloths and they get to be held for a few minutes 15 times per day. The rest of the time, they hang out in the mangroves on the property. The sloths serve to educate both the natives and tourists on the importance of the mainland forests (their natural habitat) and their peaceable nature. The monkeys are all rescued pets as is the raccoon, the macaws and parrots. You are allowed to go in the enclosure with the young capuchin monkeys, and if they want to come hang out on you they can. They're not forced--they're not even forced to be in the same enclosure--there is a tube high up that connects it to another enclosure. In the afternoon after all the tourists are gone, the monkeys are all let out to play in the trees and roam the property for a few hours. The enclosures were large, clean, and had trees growing in them for the animals to climb or other interactive structures. I was really, really impressed with this place and the obvious care they take of their charges.
Arch's Iguana and Marine Sanctuary. Iguana are one of the native island species, and they are relentlessly hunted as food. We actually saw three iguana hunters today on the way to the airport (they were pointed out by our driver as they scanned the trees in search of their prey). I have nothing against hunting for food, but the iguana population on the island has been so depleted that it's rare to see one anymore. We did not take the snorkel tour at the Marine Park, but after seeing the video at the bottom of this post I wish we had.
Finally we ended up at Mayan Eden Eco Park. There the birds and the monkeys roam freely--though there are some rescued animals in enclosures including white-tailed deer. The big draw for me there though was the butterfly house. They propagate and raise larval plants for the butterflies, and tin their butterfly house they have living examples of the different stages of each type of butterfly. The tour guides are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and it's clear the mission there is also education and conservation of the butterflies and the animals that now make their home there. There is also a zipline through the jungle canopy in the park, but we never even saw the area for that. As with the other two places, the interactions with the animals were carefully controlled for the animals benefit. The monkeys were coaxed over with food--they weren't coerced to interact with the tourists--and they scampered off when they wanted.
I end the post with a video interview of members of the Arch family talking about the reasons behind their Sanctuary and what they do daily to keep it alive.