Toucan at Güiráoga
In the Guarani language, it means the House of Birds. Fortunately for the animals sheltered there, it’s not limited to birds.
I arrived in Puerto Iguazu by an overnight bus from Buenos Aires, so I decided not to go right away to the famous falls. Instead, I took a taxi to Güiráoga on the outskirts of town. There, I boarded a tractor-driven trailer and rode to the heart of the local jungle, where there were cages containing birds, monkeys, coatimundis, small mammals, and even a crocodile. Our guide was a young Italian naturalist, who led the tour in Spanish. (There is a tour in English, but I was there too late in the day for that.)
The purpose of Güiráoga is to rehabilitate injured animals. According to The Argentina Independent:
Sadder, human activity is what populates the rehabilitation centre; most of the injured animals are victims of poachers, automobiles, or wildlife trafficking. In a recent case, several wild birds were confiscated from the Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires. Those that were not found dead were transported back to Güirá Oga for rehabilitation.
Seeing the occupants in action at the park, however, helps you believe there is still good in the human species. Two vultures square off against each other, oblivious to their onlookers; several small birds flirt and chase one another around their cage; and all except one of the Capuchin monkeys cuddled and showed off for their viewers.
On the jungle trails in the Iguazu National Park, one can see several of the birds and animals, but not all. That’s why my toucan appears behind a chain link fence. I did see plenty of capuchin monkeys (called monos in Argentina) and coatimundis. Happily, I did not encounter any crocodiles or leopards on my walks.
The website (in Spanish) of Güiráoga is accessible by clicking here.