Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi

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Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) is a Bolivian non-governmental organization dedicated to environmental education and the care of sick, mistreated and abandoned wildlife. It is the country's largest destination for confiscated wildlife and currently cares for around 500 animals, most of them rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.[2]

The organization also carries out environmental activism and education about animal rights and conservation. The name comprises words from three

Chiriguano Guaraní

CIWY is supported by international volunteers that stay for a minimum of two weeks. Volunteers help care for animals, clean and build cages and prepare food.[3][4]


In 1986, Juan Carlos Antezana and Tania "Nena" Baltazar began working with impoverished youth in a small neighborhood in

tailoring, horticulture
in greenhouses and other activities.

As part of the education program, the children were taken on field trips to the

. These youth formed an integral part of CIWY's early attempts to raise awareness of environmental destruction.

During another field trip, the children witnessed blatant abuse of wildlife: they found a spider monkey in the city of Rurrenabaque kept in a local bar. Antezana and Baltazar rescued, treated, and released the monkey. However, the monkey returned to Rurrenabaque and was again captured. Antezana and Baltazar realized a wildlife sanctuary would be necessary to protect these animals. CIWY was formally organized in 1992. The organization worked with and cared for rescued animals in a Japanese garden in La Paz until 1996, when the mayor of Villa Tunari granted conditional use of Parque Machía for the organization's rescue efforts.

CIWY was devastated during the COVID-19 pandemic as international volunteers were unable to travel.[5]

In 2021, The Puma Years, a memoir by Laura Coleman was published about Coleman's time with CIWY at Parque Ambue Ari. It became a number-one bestseller on Amazon upon release. Proceeds from the book are being donated to CIWY.[5]


Howler monkey under CIWY's care at Parque Ambue Ari

Wildlife sanctuaries

CIWY manages three wildlife sanctuaries across Bolivia. Volunteers, most of whom come from other countries, play an active role in caring for and tending to the needs of the animals.[6][4][3]

Parque Machía

Parque Machía is situated in Villa Tunari in Chapare Province, in the department of Cochabamba. In 1996 the municipal council of Villa Tunari granted CIWY use of the park's land under the condition that CIWY looked after it, as it was under threat from deforestation and poaching. The sanctuary specializes in the care of spider monkeys and capuchin monkeys.

Animals that are cared for include

parrots and toucans

In 2009, the municipal council of Villa Tunari approved the construction of a road that would cut through the park in order to improve access to communities.[7] Despite an international campaign against the road, construction began in 2010. The road has loosened ground soil, causing landslides during the heavy rainy seasons, not only making the road impassable for much of the year, but also contributing to further loss of habitat for CIWY's efforts. In 2009, Jane Goodall visited Villa Tunari to speak against the destruction of the road.[8] In 2010, four pumas were relocated to Parque Jacj Cuisi as a result of land loss due to the road's construction.

Volunteer dormitory at Parque Ambue Ari

Parque Ambue Ari

Parque Ambue Ari is an 800-hectare wildlife sanctuary located in the department of


The natural habitat within Parque Ambue Ari is an ideal location to care for jaguars, pumas, ocelots, exotic birds, tapirs, coati and red howler monkeys; however, local farmers have encroached on the sanctuary's land and hunters have been found within its territory.

The organization is in charge of the medical aspects of all animals while volunteers help by cleaning cages, feeding the animals, providing enrichment, and assisting in construction or maintenance.

Welcome sign at Parque Jacj Cuisi

Parque Jacj Cuisi

In 2008, additional land was purchased outside Rurrenabaque to found a third sanctuary: Parque Jacj Cuisi. Jacj Cuisi encompasses 300 hectares located approximately 35 km from the village of San Buenaventura. Its location is important for the development of CIWY's work, as it is linked to the Madidi National Park, a 1.8-million hectare reserve and an ideal land for reintroduction programs. 'Jacj Cuisi' means "land of dreams" in the native language Mosetan Tacana.[3]


CIWY's beginnings were in educating poor children of El Alto, La Paz. Through the years, as CIWY's work began to encompass wildlife care and environmentalism, the type of education provided changed to focus on these topics. Today, CIWY visits cities and villages throughout Bolivia to put on educational programs for youth.

International partnerships

CIWY today has branches in England, Australia, Switzerland, and Israel. All were founded and are run by former volunteers.

CIWY has the support of Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute. In October 2009, Jane Goodall visited Parque Machía and Parque Ambue Ari.[9] CIWY is also supported by One Voice, a French animal rights organization; and The Monkey Sanctuary, a British organization that cares for rescued monkeys. In 2011, Luis Morales visited and assisted The Monkey Sanctuary.

In 2010, Baltazar and CIWY were again recognized, this time by One Voice [fr], a French animal rights organization. After participating with One Voice in a silent protest for animal rights below the Eiffel Tower, One Voice offered Baltazar a donation to be used for the purchase of a vehicle. In 2011, the funds were used to purchase CIWY's first vehicle.

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-08-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "'I could hear the fear in her voice': Aussies' nerve-racking job in Bolivian sanctuary". 2 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Islanders have 'no words' after caring for rescued pumas in Bolivia". 26 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Backpack South America: Bolivia and Brazil". 28 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Love and trust in the jungle: Eigg author's memoir of life in an Amazonian animal rescue centre wins the acclaim of Jane Goodall". 6 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Our Sanctuaries". Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY). Retrieved 2021-07-03.
  7. ^ "Emergency News: Illegal Road is destroying Inti Wara Yassi Animal Refuge! | Mr & Mrs – A blog of our round the world trip travelling through South America and South East Asia". 2009-09-25. Archived from the original on 2011-08-17. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  8. ^ "Defensora de primates evaluará la situación en el parque Machía". 2009-10-11. Archived from the original on 2012-08-11. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  9. ^ "Jane Goodall Visits Inti Wara Yassi". Quest Overseas. Archived from the original on 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2011-12-01.

External links