Human Interest

Tucked-away cabin a refuge for Venezuelan wildlife

By Genesis Carrero Soto

Caracas, Sep 2 (EFE).- In a small cabin at the foot of a mountain on the east side of Venezuela’s capital, a small team led by veterinarian Grecia Marquis has been nursing ailing and injured wildlife back to health for more than 15 years.

Her foundation, Plumas y Colas en Libertad (Feathers and Tails in Freedom), treats an average of 165 creatures a year and also works to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment and biodiversity.

Sloths, foxes, porcupines, possums, ocelots, snakes, raptors, parrots, parakeets and macaws have all benefited from the attentions of Marquis and two employees, assisted by six volunteers. assistants “Venezuela is one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity on the planet and Caracas is a capital filled with forests, full of trees, full of mountains and there is a lot of biodiversity right here in our city,” she told Efe.

Patients are referred to the foundation by citizens who encounter animals in peril, by police who come across injured creatures in the course of their duties and, in some cases, by activists who rescue wildlife from captivity and trafficking.

“We help them within our possibilities and many times, we can’t address everything they need,” the veterinarian said. “Because we don’t have support from any public or private organization.”

The foundation relies on income from the sale of Marquis’ wildlife paintings and items such as T-shirts and caps emblazoned with her designs.

Creatures whose injuries prevent their being returned to the wild after treatment and convalescence are kept in a nearby forest where the foundation sees to their needs.

The healing process can take anywhere from three months to a year at an average cost of between $20 and $30 per day for each patient.

“We always hope to grow and to have more impact and for there to be private firms that give us daily, constant support, to be able to grow. And growing means to have employees, to have more personnel and to develop the base to be able to treat more animals,” Marquis said.

One of the Feathers and Tails volunteers, Gabriela Visicchio, finds the work very rewarding.

“Besides helping the animals, this foundation makes people understand that animals, even if they are wild, need our assistance and we have to respect and take care of them,” she says. EFE gcs/dr

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