Notes from a The Traveling Scholar during his visit to Pilpintuwasi and the Animal Orphanage in 2013.
In addition to checking out Belen Market and exploring Iquitos, we ventured off to explore Pilpintuwasi. The orphanage is located a fair distance from the central part of Iquitos and involved a ride in a tuk tuk, followed by a 25 minute ride (at least) by boat to the farm’s entry point.
As soon as we reached the entry way, we were greeted by howler monkeys and macaws and handed over a reasonable sum (S/. 20 each) to begin exploring the grounds. Unlike a zoo environment (which I’m not always a huge fan of), these animals were rescued and have been kept at Pilpintuwasi at great lengths by the staff to keep them safe and thriving. (The entry fee helps cover the food and housing for all of the animals housed on the remote property)
Our private tour was led by a knowledgable Swiss volunteer who was completing a multi-month stint at the orphanage. She began by taking us to the butterfly farm, an area filled with butterfly eggs, host plants and grown butterflies. After departing the butterfly area, we were able to see other orphan animals that were being supported by Pilpintuwasi: toucans, coatis, monkeys, marmosets, macaws, an ocelot and a jaguar.
The jaguar’s story was interesting to say the least. He has been residing at the orphanage for roughly nine years after being rescued. He needs 9 POUNDS of meat per day to stay alive and healthy, 70% of which needs to be red meat, an expensive commitment for the orphanage. With the alternatives being small cages and cramped environments, they decided to keep him and use the majority of funds raised from entry fees to help feed him.
Recently, a zoo in the US offered to provide him a new home with ample space, the proper diet and zoologists who could study him in captivity. When the owner agreed and tried to gain permission to send him, the Peruvian government put a stop to it, not allowing animals from the Amazon to be sent abroad. So, the jaguar stays at Pilpintuwasi with no funding from the government and the responsibility of providing ample food and space to help him thrive.
The trip was worth the time and the money while exploring Iquitos. The town doesn’t have a ton to offer visitors outside of a local market and Ayahuasca retreats (right).