December 07, 2012

Cuenca Ecuador Zoo and a Loose Monkey! (Part 2)

This is the second part of our zoo video. The zoo is really nice with lots of animals and very natural surroundings are made for them; nothing artificial in this zoo. It takes about 2 hours to walk the whole zoo and see all of the animals. The animals have a lot of space to roam around. A monkey or two got loose and was wondering around in the trees in the zoo.


December 05, 2012

Cuenca Ecuador AMARU Zoo! (Part 1 of 2)

We finally made it to the Cuenca zoo, the Amaru Zoological.  It is a really nice zoo and all of the animals have a lot of space and room to roam. the Cuenca zoo houses about 35 animals and is located off the Pan American Autopista. This video is part 1 of 2.    Here's part 2.


December 03, 2012

Wild Animals we have NOT seen in Cuenca

Well let’s see now, what animals have we NOT seen in Cuenca? It strikes us as a bit odd but we have not seen very many wild animals in Cuenca Ecuador. We went to the Cuenca zoo and saw many animals there, but that does not count, does it? This article has to be titled “wild animals we have NOT seen in Cuenca because we haven’t seen any!

When we first moved here it seemed there were hardly any birds. We did not hear them nor see them.  In the northern country during summer, it was so hot that we would leave the bedroom window open overnight just to get an early morning breeze. This way we would also wake up to the music of the birds in the trees in our yard every morning. We’d go out in the yard and admire the bluebirds, yellow finches and red cardinals. What a sight for sore eyes.

Every other morning, we’d be treated to a pack of deer in the yard. The neighbor’s Guinea Hens would wander over and let themselves be known.  And then there were the crickets every night, our son misses them.  Our son also saw in the lake, a very large snapping turtle the size of a manhole cover. Smaller box turtles would be seen crossing the road while out driving on a hot summer day.

And here we have not been hearing any birds, until recently. But the birds have come back and they pleasantly chirp, sing and talk amongst one another every morning again.  Thank God.

We do not live in the densely populated section of the city center; in point of fact, nearby there are farmers growing vegetables in the fields, so there are not as many houses and even though it is right by the river, we have never seen squirrels, rabbits, raccoon, deer, or opossums. The only wild animals we have seen are rats and mice and now some different varieties of birds. It does strike us as a bit odd since we’re surrounded by so many beautiful mountains, and there appears to be so much nature not too far off.

On the other side of the coin, there are no snakes around here either. That’s a relief, although we’ve been told there are plenty of them in the lower country toward Guayaquil. 

We hiked up Cajas Mountain and spent the day and the only wild life we saw was some trout; didn’t even see one rabbit or deer. This was astonishing to us. Where are all the animals?

When you start traveling out of town on the Pan-American Highway next to the mountain you don’t even see any dead animals on the roadside that accidentally got hit by cars. In the northern country you’d see dead animals on the roadsides all the time such as opossums, rabbits and even deer.

It appears there aren’t many wild animals here, and if there are, they sure do know how to hide themselves well. Haven’t seen a snake, lizard, or turtle in the wild here either, perhaps it is just too cold here for the reptiles.

If you want to see some animals in the wild in Ecuador, guess you have to go to the Amazon or the coastal regions where it is warmer. We have seen in Cuenca a few insects and spiders however; you can read all about the insect population of Cuenca here.  And watch out for our upcoming video of the Cuenca Zoo where you'll see lots of wild animals and even a loose monkey or two.

December 01, 2012

Where Have All the Stray Dogs Gone?

When we first moved here the stray dogs roaming around Cuenca was a bit disconcerting. There were hungry, sickly dogs roaming around everywhere! We felt sorry  for the weak, scruffy dogs, but we were also fearful they might attack!  Luckily, this has not been the case. In fact, most of the stray dogs in Cuenca are gentle and timid of people.

They mostly roam the streets looking for garbage to eat and sometimes they get thrown some stale bread or old white rice from an Ecuadorian restaurant owner, but these dogs are mostly vitamin deficient and weak. Some of the dogs wobble around on only three legs, while others limp around because they got hit by a car.

Where Have the Dogs Gone?

We have noticed a BIG change in the amount of roaming dogs on the streets here in Cuenca. We remarked about seeing less roaming dogs to one expat lady and she told us there is an expat volunteer program working with a rescue and protection operation called ARCA. Together they are working steadily to pick up stray animals that have been living miserably on the streets of Cuenca. 

UPDATE: January 2014 - For about a year it seemed as if there were less dogs on the streets, but now it seems like there is just as many, or more than before. We know it is difficult to keep the stray dog population down and it's a huge job! 

ARCA is a veterinarian clinic and rescue company in Cuenca that offers low cost treatment for animals; it houses and feeds hundreds of dogs and cats and offers low cost to free spays and neuters to the animals. We have heard they have hundreds of dogs and numerous cats waiting to be adopted into caring homes.

Many of the dogs they rescue are sickly and in need a lot of TLC. After nursing the animals back to health they are put up for adoption into loving homes here in Cuenca. Here is the website for ARCA but unfortunately it is only in Spanish.   Try putting it into Google Translate; it does not translate efficiently but it is better than nothing.

Should you bring your pets to Cuenca with you?

If you’re a pet lover and leaving your dog or cat with friends in the US, perhaps you would think about adopting one of these rescued dogs or cats and provide them with a caring home and family. Each new expat that moves to Cuenca and adopts one animal, if they so choose, would be giving these animals the loving homes they deserve. 

In the US it is so very easy to find loving homes for the pets we already have, but here in Ecuador, it is a bit more difficult. The Ecuadorians that have pets have the extra income to feed them nutritionally sound meals and provide a loving home. But many Ecuadorians can’t afford to feed a dog or cat and take care of the upkeep of owning a pet.

BTW…dog and cat food is VERY expensive here. The brands you know and love, and that are the most nutritious cost three to five times more here. One expat lady, who has three cats of her own, told us that one small can of Friskies wet food costs $2. And there aren't any alternatives. So if you have multiple pets you can be spending well over $100 a month on pet food.

On another note,  we have noticed that a lot of the foreigners want to rent furnished and with a yard for their pets, which is almost impossible to find.  And when you find it, the landlords don't want pets!! It is much easier to find, if you own a pet to rent unfurnished. We'll talk more about that in another article.

Anyway, the working Ecuadorians can eat a whole meal on $1.50, plus have $0.50 cents left over to buy a humita or plantain with cheese later on in the day.  And this is the point. It is not in the budget for most Ecuadorians to own even one dog or cat. Not only that, but the up-keep for the animal is not in the budget either. And this is the reason why many animals don’t have a loving Ecuadorian home to go to. This is where you come in.

We’re happy there are so many volunteers that are ambitious to this cause and being proactive about helping these poor animals… and we can bet the animals are also happy! Thank you ARCA and all of its faithful volunteers for a job well done. Keep up all the wonderful work!

ARCA Foundation -

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