Tuesday the 23rd of October, 2019, was like many other nights in Ambue Ari. It was 7pm and everyone was ready for a night visiting the village of Santa Maria, where volunteers and staff spend the evening sharing stories of their out-of-the-ordinary days in the jungle. Except this wasn’t an ordinary Tuesday. Staff and volunteers had been trying, without luck, to find a hitch to take them to town. Suddenly a car slowed down, and people were excited that a few might finally get a ride. However, the car turned out to be a government car, and on the back was a handmade wooden box–a box that hissed when someone got too close.
The two terrified eyes of a female baby puma, not more than 7 weeks old, stared at us through the cracks of the box, making our hearts skip a beat. We couldn’t believe our eyes. “How is this still happening?” It felt very surreal.
She was immediately taken to the vet clinic to be examined by the two vets. She was dehydrated, malnourished, missing patches of fur and riddled with parasites. She had a dirty rope around her tiny neck, and was very scared.
The officers told us she was found on a cattle farm near Guarayos. The cub’s mother had been killed by the farmer because she was getting too close to his animals, and they then kept the cub tied up to a pole for several days.
In the months after arriving at Ambue Ari, the cub’s time in the clinic was as magical as it was challenging. She was treated, fed, warmed, cleaned, enriched, trained, and monitored, with some days not ending until 11 o’clock at night. Importantly, she learnt how to trust and not fear people, and how to be comfortable in the life that was now hers.
She is one of the newest and youngest members of the CIWY family, and is growing up to be a beautiful and big young puma. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to welcome an animal who had their freedom taken away from them. Sadly, that freedom was taken away forever, because of the terrible decision of one person.
Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) is a Bolivian Non-Governmental Organisation engaged in protecting wildlife rescued from illegal trafficking and the conservation of ecosystems. Across its three wildlife sanctuaries, CIWY has cared for thousands of animals over the years, providing for them a better quality of life and a future in their natural habitat. CIWY has been in operation since 1992 and is today recognised internationally for its work in wildlife care and rehabilitation.
Part of the extended CIWY family are Friends of Inti Wara Yassi UK and Friends of Inti Wara Yassi Australia, two international nonprofits founded and run by former volunteers to facilitate fundraising and permit tax-deductible donations for British and Australian taxpayers.