Butterfly Farm, Iquitos Peru

by Captain Bill

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:

Butterfly Farm, Iquitos Peru

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.

Butterfly Farm, Iquitos Peru

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.

Gudrun showing a Blue Morpho at the Butterfly Farm, Iquitos Peru

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.

Bill Grimes, Welcome to Iquitos Peru , Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 gudrun June 28, 2007 at 10:27 am

Dear Bill
I’ve just read your article -and I’m still smiling because of your nice way of presenting (almost)all of us,who live at Pilpintuwasi.(almost,becuase we’ve got a thrid red Uacary,calles Nico,and a suirrel mokey called Luigi).I’m very much in a hurry right now,am on the way to SUNAT-but I hope to see you soon and be able to thank you personally for telling about us and our place.
Just one thing i would like to make clear-that big Jaguar cage was financed by an American lady-Ms Roxie Walker,a bioarchaeologist who sometimes works in Peru.
Thanks to you-and all of our (+future)visitors.
Best wishes Gudrun

2 Bill June 28, 2007 at 11:33 am

Dear Gudrun, I am relieved that you approve my article. I should probably have asked your permission before publishing it. I hope that 98% of our readers (and Roblar) understand that I tried for humor when I minimized Roblar and your roles as creators and caretakers of this tropical nature paradise that has become the Butterfly Farm and Animal Orphanage. There is a lot more to your story that I will try to tell in future posts.
Best wishes, Bill

3 Dale Baskin June 28, 2007 at 4:53 pm

I visited Pilpintuwasi a few months back and your description of the animals is right on! They really have some unique personalities. It would be really cool if you could feature a few photos on your blog so everyone could see them for real.

4 Bill June 28, 2007 at 5:33 pm

Thanks Dale, I will get right on it.

5 alan shoemaker June 28, 2007 at 9:00 pm

Bill, always wanted to tell you this… so now I have the time… you are an excellent writer my friend.

6 Dave Bonnett June 28, 2007 at 9:20 pm

After seeing this we immediately emailed you about another trip next year and made a donation. I would bet that many people would love to adopt an animal and pay their expenses for a year. Can’t wait for our next visit to the Butterfly Farm! Dottie

7 Bill June 29, 2007 at 7:40 pm

Thanks Alan, my writing always disappoints me, but if it convinced Dottie and others to make a donation to the Butterfly Farm I will be satisfied. Thank you very much for all of your support Dottie.

8 dawson June 30, 2007 at 8:59 am

It is a joy to read of all the characters at Pilpintuwasi. When I visited there for the first time….seeing and touching a real live ant-eater….it brought tears to my eyes…. As a young boy, growing up far away from the jungle, I always loved looking at all of the wild animals in our family’s encyclopedia. The Giant Ant-eater was always my favorite!!…..So exotic, incredible and unique….when I was able to see one…be with one….it was very emotional for me. Like I was able to be with a hero of mine….a real archetypal experience.
“Hats off” to Gudrun and crew !!! Really doing incredible work…and through their openess in sharing their efforts…allow any of us to feel and experience the energy that is there.
You are absolutely right Bill….a very important and worthwhile place to give financial support.

9 Gudrun June 30, 2007 at 9:52 am

Many thanks,dawson, for your favourable comment,and another special thanks to Dave Bonett,Dottie.If you’ve made a donation for Pilpintuwasi through our website,we’re going to get it through the bioarchaeological society.They either send us the money on a bank account,or the director of the society might come to bring it personally as she has done last year.
It’s great to see that people like our place-but even if anybody doesn’t,or has had a not very good experience at Pilpintuwasi I’ll be happy to learn about it.I myself don’t have a computer,and so I will not be able to respond to the comments immediately-I just go to an Internetcafè once or twice a week…
Ah,one more thing about Tony-Bill, you forgot to mention that our visitors should take care of their pockets-Tony might be sitting on your arm and ‘chatting’ to you-but at the same time she sticks her hand into your pockets-and as soon as she finds something(coins,papers,sweets)she’s gone with it.So please take care-not only for your sake,but also for the monkeys-eating a chewing gum can kill a monkey!

10 Bill June 30, 2007 at 11:58 am

Gudrun knows Tony is a smart pick pocket and habitual tool user. One day Tony “borrowed” one of my guests cigarettes and lighter. She smoked two of them before Tom climbed the tree and got them back. So please take care…smoking causes cancer in monkeys…ha, ha, he, ji…

11 Dale Baskin July 5, 2007 at 5:45 pm

Bill – love the photos! Cool!

12 Dave Bonnett July 7, 2007 at 12:00 am

Gudrun, I did donate through the Bioarchaeological Society. I would also like to sponsor the monkeys’ costs in memory of my mother, who worked with siamangs. I take it that’s the best way to donate as I won’t be down again until March. Bill, save us some space on the boat then as well as at least one trip to the butterfly farm. Dave’s working on a presentation for the pink dolphin recordings and is eager (obsessive?) to get more. Dottie

13 gudrun sperrer July 10, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Thank you very much ,Dottie,for wanting to help us support the monkeys.We are very grateful for whatever help we can get!
But I have to make a comment I should have made when I first saw the blog-Bill,you’ve used the estimate costs for feeding our animals that appear on our website-and I must apólogize to everyone,because I didn’t update those costs.When we started the website we only had 4 monkeys,but now we have got 11,and some of them still get daily baby mik,cereals,and all of them PVM so they have a strong immun system-which is very important,as they have contact with many other animals and,what’s most “dangerous”for them ,with people.So now we actually spend about 50U$monthly in food for them.
On the other hand-although we now have 4 macaws and 9 parrots we spend less on their food than we did a few years ago,because meanwhile our parrots fly around a bit,we planted many fruittrees for them and spend now ‘only’about 30U$ in nuts,eggs,sunflowerseeds etc per month.
Concerning the manatee-right now the low water season has started,and that’s when we have to get lettuce for the manatee-in high waterseason we can get water hyazints from the river and only spend some time and gasoline in getting it.Now there isn’t anymore access to the waterhyazints-and unfortunately we cannot grow it in our ponds,because the water is too clean-so we have to get other food for Marbino.We’ve tried it already with other weeds,with watermelons etc-but what he really likes is-organic lettuce from Lima….
We don’t spend much money in feeding the anteater Rosa-but we have to pay the young man who walks her 10 Soles(3U$)daily,besides she only gets her oatmilk as a treat when people want to see her and take pictures.
I will send these new details to the lady who does our website-I should have done it long ago-but as I don’t have a PC,I haven’t looked at the ‘old pages’for a long time and didn’t change a thing.Sorry Bill-whatever is wrong with the numbers-it’s my fault for not checking earlier,maybe you could change it.Excuse me for not telling you immediately!

14 Jim Grimes May 27, 2014 at 8:35 am

The top picture is a classic.

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