Monkey magic at Merazonia

The visit to Merazonia was inspired by a guest speaker who spoke at one of Alice’s events at Hub Melbourne. Her name is Serena Star-Leonard, a lady who considers herself retired because she travels the world for a living and seeks all the meaning and pleasure she desires in life. Inspirational stuff. Here’s a short film Serena made after her trip to Merazonia describing what it’s all about.

After Serena put up a photo of her and a tiny tamarin monkey on her shoulder, Alice was sold about Merazonia and all its magic and shortly after booked the volunteer stint in. In the email back from the people from Merazonia, we were told there is no electricity and that volunteering was 6 days a week and no walk in the park. Months later, we definitely had a very full experience of what it’s like to live and walk many gumbooted steps in the jungle, not the park, with an amazing team of vibrant, passionate people who care very much for animals. For Alice especially, who as a child was set on becoming a vet and working with animals, Merazonia was a dream come true.

P9130834Living in the jungle means rain at any time, being armed with machetes, and stomping around in rubber boots. You quickly fall in love with being surrounded by wildness and its creatures.

IMG_0595Louis, a sweet clingy bird who loved to have a nibble. Many of the birds spoke and liked to say “hola!”

IMG_0521Part of our daily routine was to prepare specially designed food for different species of monkeys, birds and another strange animal called Kinkajous. The Wooleys which loved to dine vegetarian style. Which is good because these guys are prone to diabetes when the fruits are piled high.

P9120811This is Nina, she was always quite interested in what we were doing when we were cleaning cages.


IMG_0571Kinkajous! Weird bear slash possum creatures who loved sloppy fruit, in particular papaya. We were curious about how much nutrition they got because their poo would come out exactly the same colour as their food. They are meant to be noctornal but these two guys were fatties and would come out when they smelt the sweet nectar of fruity goodness on their doorstep.











P9130842Our sleeping quarters shared with about ten other volunteers. The physical work looking after the animals was demanding enough so that you earnt a good nights sleep every day, never disturbed by night time noises or snoring.

P9120828This is our jungle kitchen where we spent most of our time chatting and figuring out what we were going to fill our bellies with each day. Much pasta, rice, bread and eggs were consumed at a insatiable rate at Merazonia. In fact, we had first breakfast at 7.30AM, second breakfast at 11AM, lunchtime at 2pm and dinner at 8pm. Similar to the kinkajous Alice ate a lot of papaya after long-term volunteer Damien told her the papaya seeds are a natural killer of parasites and worms for animals and humans. This was a souvenir Alice wasn’t keen on.

IMG_1053Our beautiful waterfall. Early on in the water source chain, we drank, swam and played happily in this little piece of paradise.


P9070728Saturday nights are sacred and special at Merazonia because instead of a 7.30AM start, Sundays are a welcome sleep in with a 10AM start followed by a shorter shift. Drinking games and shananigans obviously ensued.

P9070716Every night members of the team would take turns cooking and then we would eat by candle light. As no electricity means no refrigeration, we ate meat twice a week when the weekly shopping was done for both the volunteers and the animals. We had many laughs with these very special volunteers from all over the world {Italy, Spain, Australia, France, UK, Switzerland at the point we were there} and we’ll remember this jungle time monkey magic for a lifetime.


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