Thursday, June 16, 2016

Honey, we bought a monkey and 4 parrots

This is Mike...
There is an old saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction" and oh boy, is that ever so true. On our way back to Granada, we saw some people selling forest animals on the side of the highway. We stopped to see the birds they we offering and were appalled by the way the wild forest birds were being kept. Each bird had their flight feathers trimmed and were sitting on a stick with 4 inches of string tied around their right legs so they could not escape. We felt so bad for the birds. We huddled and whispered as a family plotting how we could care for the birds and set them free, once they were able to fly. By the time we were done, we bought 4 parrots and a monkey. Before people start judging us about contributing to animal trade, read on. The parrots were in a terrible shape and the monkey was super thirsty so their lives probably depended on us buying them.

Innocently stopping to see what was available.

The birds looked so sad tethered to a stick with their 4 inch strings.

With hands of a child, the monkey surprised us.
    Buying the animals was the easy part. What in the heck are we going to do with them, proved more tricky. When we got back home we realized just how wrong it was for us to keep them even for a short time while they are convalescing back to health. Within hours we found a good home for the birds, letting the new care takers know that we wished for the parrots to one day be free again. As for the monkey, the girls fell in love with him right away and named it "Sport." Well, Sport liked to poop just about everywhere and at anytime. For example, Sport was on Sierra's head and pooed a good one, which oozed right down her back. Sport peed on both of my girls heads on three separate occasions. Sport bit each of the girls, including Elise, several times while they were playing with him. We don't blame him at all, he is a wild animal and needed to be reintroduced to the wild when the time was right.

Cuddly, adorable monkey.

Packing the majestic parrots in a pathetic box for the ride home.

   Very few things, in life, are able to conjure a family feud of yelling and swearing at each other, like a monkey can. In less then 10 minutes after arriving home, the monkey scurried over our wall and went into our neighbors living room. Imagine, for a moment, what you would have done if a strange monkey hopped on to your couch, while you were watching your favorite soap opera? Well then, you can kind of imagine our neighbors reactions. They screamed bloody murder and ran outside of their house, stunned that a monkey was between them.  After the gut splitting laughter, between us and our  neighbors stopped, we knew that we were holding a living breathing "Hot Potato." Monkeys are more lively than a cranky 2 year old and crazier than a college stoner. Knives, scissors, glass, everything was in harms way, while Sport was on the loose. Poo and pee aside, monkeys are needy, social beings and we knew Sport needed much more than we could offer him.

How can you not like a monkey.

Sport was happy to make home on top of you head.

Sierra liked playing with ole pooper Sport but realized he was a bit too much to handle.

   Elise slept on the couch last night and I was worried that she was upset by all the yelling and swearing that had gone on in the prior evening. I approached the front living room cautiously, in case she was still upset, only to find Elise laying down watching T.V. with the monkey on her head. I asked if she was Okay and she replied, "Yes I am Okay, I just can't get up." I asked why, and she replied, "The monkey won't get off my hair, he bites me every time I try to move him, he constantly plays with me. He is so needy, it's hard to get mad at him." I helped her move Sport and then went to the coffee machine for my morning jolt. Moments later my wife walked into the kitchen. I said, "OMG your hairs looks crazy." Elise replied, "Imagine a monkey teasing your hair all night long and making a nest with it." Just after that, Elise turned around and looked in the mirror and laughingly said, "MY GOD... my hair has never looked like this before! It looks like a rat's nest! It's Crazy!" We both started to laugh and didn't stop until our sides were in pain. Elise officially had the "Bride of Frankenstein, slash 1980's flashback monkey hairdo" and we officially had a problem.

Walking a monkey is nothing like walking a dog.

5 Minutes after this picture, Sport peed on Sierra's head

Family portrait

   Finding a solution sometimes means finding a need that needs to be filled. For Sierra, Zoe, and I, we found the animal rescue center just outside of the Masaya Zoo. There, we met Steven Lyons from Tyler, Texas who has since relocated with his wife to Masaya, Nicaragua. He helps rehabilitate far too many forest animals in a successful reintegration program. People are often times crazy, and their expectations on animal ownership are even more so. We never wanted to keep the monkey or parrots, just save them from the jerk-offs who exploit them on the side of the highway. In our case, spending money buying these critters was well spent as long as they can eventually be released back to the wild.

Steven Lyons at the rescue center.

Sierra and Steven exchanging animal stories.

Steven with an injured Congo Howler Monkey.

    Just outside the Masaya Zoo, is the animal rescue center. The center's primary care takers are Steven and Denise Lyons. They work very hard to release qualifying animals back to the forest. Qualifying animals can both take care of themselves and show a willingness to be wild and free. Recently, the rescue center released more than 100 animals back to the wild, far away from human encroachment. The rescue center is swimming in forest birds of all kinds, including macaws, toucans, and other rare birds. They are doing the most possible for the animals with any money they receive but the constant supply of new forest animals overwhelms them. For those of you wishing to improve the world, donating to this cause would be worth while. Feel free to email Denise at if you wish to donate or have any question regarding the program. This is a great place and any amount will help. In fact, my family and I will be going back out there soon to donate both money and time for their program.     

Jaguarundi is a wildcat of the forest

Baby porcupine in the neonatal clinic was as adorable as it gets.

Spider monkey staring into your soul

Green parrot should be flying in the forest.

Rare forest birds trapped in a cage

   My daughters and I dropped off Sport at the rescue center and were excited to hear they will do everything in their power to get him back to the wild. We were amazed to learn of so many other animals they were trying to free. The center housed every sort of animal like rodents, wildcats, birds, raccoons, monkeys, and porcupines to name a few. Some of the animals will never return to the wild, like the monkeys whose canine teeth were yanked out to make the bite less bad. The process of regaining the "Wild spirit" in the animals takes time. There are many animals at the center that were injured because they were set free too early and in areas that were too populated. For example, a family let their pet toucan free and it flew into a neighbors window breaking its beak in half. The rescue center took the injured toucan in and glued the front half of a beak from a toucan skeleton it had in storage, as a prosthetic beak. These are just some of the amazing things the center does for the innocent animals it takes in.

More parrots than one could imagine.

You can almost see the broken beak repair job on this toucan.

Raccoon itching to be free.

Coatimundis are naturally curious guys which gets them in harms way.
   Lessons learned are many, but the greatest lesson we learned is that wild animals are best left in the wild. My kids were understandably saddened to see their monkey, Sport, go. However, they both knew it was the right thing for everyone, including Sport. Trying to explain animal freedom to a child can be tough because they think their intentions to be good owners will make up for any short comings. For adults too, intention to do good sometimes clouds judgement. We all learned a lesson and when a family learns together it make future episodes like this less likely to occur.
   Please support the rescue center as their injured animals can't go out and help themselves and this is the last stop for these innocent animals.    


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