Meet the animals

Meet the animals

We are currently caring for about 100 animals, including: capuchin, woolly, red howler and tamarin monkeys; many species of parrots and macaws; kinkajous and small mammals. We also house a puma and sometimes other felines. Most are brought to us by the Ministry of Environment, after confiscating them from illegal traders. 

Because rehabilitation is an important part of what we do, the group of animals we look after often changes, with animals being released or moved to other refuges, depending on the care and environment they need.

Merazonia focuses on wildlife rehabilitation. We have had some great successes in this area but are always looking for ways to innovate and improve. Often animals are too imprinted to return to the wild. If rehabilitation is not possible, we try to give them the most natural life possible here at Merazonia.

3 A capuchin Sam 4

Capuchin monkeys

Our group consists of white fronted capuchins (Cebus albifrons). They are the most intelligent monkeys in the Americas and can open big fruits and hard nuts using tools, like rocks.White fronted capuchins are the most commonly seen primate in captivity, and are threatened by hunting for both meat and the pet trade. They are affected by deforestation, as well as the associated fragmentation of their habitat, and by human presence. Their condition is currently considered stable in the Amazon.

Our capuchins all come from different places but most of them have lived with humans. We try to wean them off human contact in order to give them a chance of a possible release in the future. Because of their intelligence, complicated hierarchical group structure and their tendency to destroy, we cannot release them at Merazonia. It is too risky for the humans here and those surrounding us, as well as for the other animals here. In the future we hope to find a remote area for release. But this will ask for a lot of time, money and cooperation between different organisations. 

3 A woolly Nekane

Woolly monkeys

They are one of the largest South American primates and live in the middle and upper Amazon basin. Woolly monkeys spend most of their time high in the canopy of the trees and rarely venture to the forest floor. Living in a social group is essential to a woolly monkey’s wellbeing. Colony life provides the monkeys with security, friendship, emotional stability, safety and stimulation. It is only through being with other monkeys that an individual will be able to develop their identity and personality, and learn the skills it needs to survive.

We regularly see or hear wild groups of woolly monkeys pass by. We are currently forming  one or two cohesive groups that can possibly be (soft)released deeper into the Merazonia reserve. Our group consist of an adult male and female, some juveniles and currently still in kindergarden: three baby woollies that still need some human care.

3 a howler niamh

Red howler monkeys

The red howler is the loudest land animal in the world. A howler's call can be heard up to three miles (4.8 km) away. This is because of their enlarged hyoid bone that functions as an amplifier and resonator. Howler monkeys are leaf eaters. Because foliage is such a big part of their diet and is low in energy, they spend most of the day (up to 80 %) stationary: resting, napping and digesting. Due to their delicate digestive system, howlers don’t do well in captivity and often die within months. Currently Merazonia houses the only group of captive red howlers in Ecuador and aims for a soft release once a cohesive and unified group is formed.


3 A tamarin 2 2Tamarin monkeys

These small monkeys have a very complicated social structure and show all types of social systems: monogamy, polygamy (one male and multiple females) and polyandry (one female and multiple males). The dominant female secretes pheromones that suppress reproduction in the other females in the group, preventing inbreeding and providing her with help to care for the offspring (80% of pregnancies give twins). Tamarins occupy large territories of 16-100 hectares per group. They are found in the Central and South Amazon. The saddle back tamarin is a very common monkey to see in the wild at Merazonia and we have successfully released several groups on site in the past.

9 5 kinkajou 1Kinkajous

Kinkajous come from the same family as raccoons, are nocturnal and live in trees. They normally weigh between 2 and 3.2 kilo. Though often seen solitary, they are also found in small groups, feeding from the same trees. Kinkajous have a confusing social structure but presumably have no territorial defence as their areas often overlap. They are agile and move rapidly; running and jumping from tree to tree. During the day they sleep in hollows high up in the trees. Their diet is based on fruit and insects, and in dry times they drink nectar from flowers, using their long tongues.Kinkajous are found at the Coast, the Amazon and throughout the Andes. They live in tropical and subtropical forests, occupying the high levels of the trees.  They are found from 0 to 2000m altitude. Merazonia has released several kinkajous in the past and is in the process of releasing some more.  

9 6 feline 1 oncillaFelines

South America is home to several felines ranging from small cats like the ocelot and margay to larger cats like the jaguar. Merazonia has successfully released several smaller species of felines in the past, such as the margay, the ocelot and the oncilla. Our trap cameras that monitor more remote parts of our land, frequently register felines, including the rare black jaguar (see video trap cameras).

The only resident cat at Merazonia is Pangui, meaning ‘female puma’ in Mapuche. She was confiscated at a hostel in the Andes along with over 30 other wild animals, all kept in poor conditions.Initially she could hardly walk due to lack of muscle development, but she is running and jumping (and snoozing) like a pro now. We currently consider the risks and costs for release for her too high.

3 A bird Blue head parrotParrots and macaws

Merazonia houses a large number of various species of parrots and macaws. They are the most trafficked species in the Amazon. People keep them as pets but they are also smuggled to Europe, North America and Asia. Though many die on the trip, the value of a parrot if smuggled successfully can run into thousands of dollars and so the trade remains lucrative. Though hard to distinguish one from the other at first, they all have their own characters, likes and dislikes. Sometimes these can be even very personal, whereby they favour men or women, or even just one specific volunteer.

In the Amazon there are 48 existing species of parrots, macaws and parakeets (Psittacidae), 46 of which live in the Amazon of Ecuador. They live in social groups. Merazonia currently houses: black-headed, blue-headed, orange winged, mealy, yellow crowned and red lored parrots. We also have some blue and yellow macaws and scarlet macaws. Parrots are difficult to rehabilitate, so in most cases, we try to give them the most natural, yet protected, environment possible. We are currently researching a pilot parrot release program.  

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Baby Ocelot Marvin