“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man. ” — Charles Darwin”
In Part 2 of my recap of Day 4, I survived the first half of tackling the Andes on a mountain bike! Our reward . . . visiting a rescue zoo!
The Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary (http://santuariocochahuasi.com) is a privately-owned, family-run organization in the Sacred Valley of Peru that rescues exotic animals that have been injured or have been used for cruel entertainment purposes. Some of the animals you will find here are: alpacas, llamas, condors, vicuna (a llama-like animal), and pumas. If you are an animal lover, this place is for you!
The crown jewel of this sanctuary is the Andean Condor. This bird is the largest avian species in the world with a 3.2 metre wing span and can live to 80 to 90 years. For the first seven to eight years of their life their feathers are brown. Over time, their feathers turn black and white. The condor can be found in the Andes from Venezuela to Argentina. To my surprise they only eat dead animals and do not kill to feed. We had the opportunity to see two up close — both of which flew over our heads!
The condor is in grave danger of becoming instinct due to the following:
- Poisoning — Farmers falsely believe that condors are hunters and are a threat to livestock;
- Spiritual belief about their feathers — They are hunted for their feathers for the Incan belief of the spiritual energy attached to them. These feathers are sold to tourists and shamans.
- Cables — Power cables are set up near the mountains where condors live. Because the cables are difficult to see condors often crash into them at 60 to 70 km/hr.
- Slow reproduction — Condors lay eggs only every two to three years so replenishing the population is a challenge.
Another national treasure (and delicacy!) that is featured in this animal rescue compound is the guinea pig. In Peru they are called cuy (“coo-ee”) and they are a traditional source of protein. An estimated 65 million guinea pigs are consumed annually in Peru. I’m going to stop right there and flash a pic because they are so damn adorable . . . . and delicious (I will chronicle my dining experience of cuy in a later post)!
At the Animal Sanctuary you will also find the creation of natural dyes and hand woven alpaca wool garments. The sweaters made by the people of Peru are beautiful and warm! Each garment features a symbol of Peru, like a llama or the Incan Sun. What is amazing about the process of sewing these designs is that there are no templates used. Each design is created by memory and imagination.
On our way out we were greeted by this pack of rowdy troublemakers — Peruvian Hairless Dogs!
Rough, lively, and playful, these dogs love other dogs and will definitely not bore you. They ran around our feet before bolting across the compound to find adventure. My kind of breed 🙂
MOMENT OF ZEN: Being at this rescue zoo reminded me of when I rescued someone a few years ago. With another person I adopted a seven year old Australian Shepard, Daliah. Her previous owner suddenly passed away and was orphaned. We found her via Kijijji that she was looking for a home. The moment we met her we instantly fell in love. Daliah was there for me during some really tough times in my life and I will always treasure her companionship. Sometimes getting up in the morning just to feed and take Daliah for her walk was the best part of my day. She gave me a sense of purpose when I was lost.
A couple of years ago I said goodbye to Daliah and the girl whom I adopted Daliah with. Both of them were very good to me, however life happens and I’m happy I had Daliah in my life (as with the girl). She made me appreciate the small things life, like having a wet nose nudge you awake at 5:30 am, and running to the door when you arrive home from work. So I encourage you to consider adopting a rescue. You’ll most likely find the animal you save will end up rescuing you 🙂
Peace, love, and adventure 🙂