Butterfly Farm, Iquitos Peru
I am going to take you behind the scenes of the Amazon Animal Orphanage and Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm in Iquitos Peru. Most people know a little bit about the Butterfly Farm. I have earned my insights studying and photographing at the Butterfly Farm.
First, let me introduce you to the cast of characters:
Tony Piraña thinks she is the star of the show at the Butterfly Farm. Tony is a White-fronted Capuchin Monkey, raised by street children in Iquitos Peru. Capuchins are considered to be the smartest monkeys in Central and South America, with many documented cases of habitual tool use. Tony uses tools. She uses sweaty gringos for salt licks, supplementing her diet with daily mineral licks. She is a talented pick pocket and a good photographer. Keep one hand on your camera and the other on your sun glasses.
Chavo is the boss. Everyone does what he says. How an endangered Red Uakari Monkey took over the Butterfly Farm is another story. Chavo nurtures and grooms the young monkeys, and carries them around on his back. He does not seem to care what species they are. He protects them all, so don’t attack any little monkeys, otherwise he will do the same to you. Something that he likes is to groom the guests, and then he wants you to return the favor.
Zeke and Florian are Saki Monkeys. If you are lucky they might let you touch their luxurious tails.
Junior is a Black Capuchin and is Tony’s pick pocket protégé. No offence to Tony but Junior is cuter, nicer and has much better manners. He likes to come and play with you and be coquettish, wiggling his eyebrows up and down, as he crawls under your shirt or blouse, ha, ji. Here the people joke that the man would like to be the monkey…
Rosa the Giant Anteater, is also orphaned and an endangered species. To me it is a great treat to see this animal up close. Until you have seen how long her tongue is, you will not believe me.
Gudrun is a human. Her job is just to work hard and make enough money to feed the animals.
Igor and young Argus are Red Howler Monkeys and are among the most polite characters at the Butterfly Farm.
Two new members of the Butterfly Farm family are Pauly and Wicky. Pauly is an immature Red Uakari. Wicky is a young Saddleback Tamarind.
All of the characters listed above are free to roam at will around the Butterfly Farm
Lucas is a tapir that lives in a large fenced in jungle pasture. He eats $1,000 worth of fruit and vegetables per year.
Pedro Bello, the magnificent Jaguar, lives in a huge cage that cost $10,000 to build, with a big pool of water, plus he eats $3,600 worth of red meat, chicken and fish, per year. I did not realize how large Jaguars get until I stood close to Pedro. His paws and head are huge.
Roblar is another human. Like Lucas, he rarely leaves his fenced in area. He works hard every day, leading tours and preventing the monkeys from eating the caterpillars and butterflies.
The monkeys forage for most of their food except for peanuts which they seem to love. The monkeys cost around $250 per year to feed.
Four macaws and nine parrots eat around $600 per year of fruit and nuts.
The manatee eats 22 pounds of lettuce per day for a cost of over $1,000 per year for a sea cow that only shows you its nostrils.
Add a few hundred dollars to feed the agouti, turtles, and caiman.
Had it not been for Gudrun’s and Roblar’s intervention, all of these other “characters” would most certainly have died long ago.
These two humans need help. I do not know how much the veterinarians charge them, or how much is spent on labor and maintenance, INRENA fees, taxes, and miscellaneous expenses, but I think it is a lot.
Don’t expect me to be unbiased about the Amazon Animal Orphanage and Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm in Iquitos Peru. Gudrun is one of my best friends in Iquitos. I know how hard she works. In addition to the Butterfly Farm she works at the University teaching German and English so she can afford to buy enough food for Pedro Bello.
I am going to reveal another behind the scenes secret. There is a new character in the plot. Gudrun and Roblar have saved an Ocelot. The Ocelot must have a larger cage to be happy, and to make Gudrun, Roblar, all the rest of us, and you happy.
I am not authorized to speak for the Butterfly Farm, but please, donate money toward a larger cage for the Ocelot, and to help with food costs. Do not ask to see the ocelot without making a donation.
In case you think a Butterfly Farm sounds boring, lots of exciting natural events happen here. Boa Constrictors slip into the Agouti cage for a meal, and then can not get back out. Giant larva, big around as a sausage, hatch into huge beetles with samari swords for pinchers. Pedro Bello hurtles after a monkey silly enough to get on top of his cage. When Pedro is very lucky he gets a live agouti turned into his lair, or a live fish released into his pond.
The Butterfly Farm is located in the jungle near the village of Padre Cocha, and the life and death drama of the food chain plays out here every day. I observe and photograph something new and unexpected every time I go to the Butterfly Farm.
Join me the next time Dawn on the Amazon visits the Butterfly Farm. There you will find a lot of what you came to Iquitos Peru to see in the first place. I didn’t even mention the 40 species of tropical butterflies and their host plants in the botanical garden.
Butterfly Farm, Iquitos Peru
Amazon Animal Orphanage and Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm, Iquitos Peru,
Read Pilpintuwasi, With and For Nature, about volunteering to work at the Butterfly Farm, and Our Amazon Tour to the Butterfly Farm, Iquitos Peru.