It’s been a busy few weeks, and I have been silent on the blog. Last week, I gained another pet. A hunter was out in the forest and he killed a female paca. He noticed that when she died, her stomach was moving; she was pregnant. He took his knife and cut the baby paca out of its mother’s belly, and it took its first breath. His wife brought this little paca to Ellie and I asking if we wanted to raise it. It was adorable, so we said yes. When we got her, she could barely move. She was lying on her side, hardly breathing. Her umbilical cord was tied too loosely, with infection all around it. We didn’t think she would live.
The next few days, we force-fed her milk with a syringe and she started to gain strength. She would run around the house and follow us, try to climb in your lap when you sat on the floor, and was just having a grand time. Since paca are nocturnal she slept a lot during the day, but at sunrise and sunset she was an absolute ball of energy. When she gained more strength and started eating bananas mashed in milk, we retied her umbilical cord and cut off the infected portion, rubbing it with alcohol and antibiotics. We noticed she also had some sort of systemic infection, and it was affecting her ability to open her eyes fully. We started giving her tiny doses of antibiotics with her milk, and she kept gaining strength.
After a week, we started taking her to the lodge with us, taking her on the boat, everywhere. She went down to the river and learned to swim and I gave her baths in the morning to make her smell better and wash out her infections. The community loved it – we had so many visitors every day coming by asking to see her and kids asking to play with her. Mothers came by to give us advice on the best ways to feed her and share experiences of theirs caring for animals. I think Katie fell in love with her remotely, from a few pictures and a few minutes on FaceTime.
Well, sadly, this post is written in past tense for a reason. This morning when I woke up, she was sleeping peacefully, doing her normal twitching in her dreams. I let her sleep for a few hours while I was doing interviews. When I came back around mid-morning, she had passed away fast asleep in her little burrow. I’m not sure how. She was nice and fat and healthy, with loads of energy; running around all night last night. Maybe the infection finally got to her, and we didn’t get her medicine fast enough.
It was a rough morning, I really got to like that little paca even though I knew she probably wouldn’t live, being “born” prematurely, and sick. I buried her out back of my house in the meadow under the Oropendola tree. I hope Katie and the community aren’t too upset; but I understand. She was my buddy too, for a while…