01/18/2012 04:58 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Stopping the Amazon Monkey Business!


Wendy Diamond helps to stop the monkey business.

In 2005, animal lover Magali Salinas founded an NGO that is changing the world. Her organization, Amazon Shelter (, promotes the respect for and conservation of wild animals and wildlife. In particular, Amazon Shelter works to abate wild animal trading.


Magali with Monkey Pepe at the Amazon Shelter

Most people don't even realize that illegal animal trading occurs, and furthermore, that it is a major problem. The illegal trading of wildlife (60 percent of which is animals) generates up to 20 billion dollars in revenue annually. This is massive! Thousands and thousands of animals are being ripped from the comfort of their natural habitat to become pets. Today, organizations like Amazon Shelter need to be revered and supported for their incessant drive against people who treat animals like commodities, to be held against their will as pets.

Because the horrors of animal trading are vast and deeply rooted in other illegal practices, like drug and arms trading, Salinas has positioned Amazon Shelter to take a more homegrown approach to the problem. Rather than attack animal trading at the surface, Salinas is haltering its demand from the outset.

Her tool? Education.

Salinas rightly holds the conviction that the only reason animal trading is a problem is because people generate a demand for animals. The only solution to the problem, then, is for people to stop buying animals. The slogan at the heart of Amazon Shelter's campaign rings loud and clear: "Do not buy animals". No demand implies - no offer.

One of Amazon Shelter's most effective projects is the Center for Rehabilitation and Conservation of Wild Animals (CRCAS). Established in 2008, CRCAS is steadfast in protecting Peruvian Amazon wildlife. The project takes in animals that need help so that they can be let back into the wilderness safe and sound.


Birds of Paradise

Wild Peruvian animals that need help generally need it for one of two reasons: either their habitat has been threatened or they have been caught in the throes of animal trade. Both pose major challenges to CRCAS, who simultaneously works to prevent these causes through educational programs meant to promote consciousness and conservation.

For animal lovers around the world, Magali Salinas has become not only a role model, but a leader of a cause too important to leave alone. Salinas is proving that, while the denigration of wildlife is unfortunately entrenched throughout much of the world, there are solutions that work. We must learn the value of learning, and use it to turn heads, to raise doggy ears, to the cries of stolen animals, that deserve to be left alone in the wild.


Monkey the adorable Howler Monkey may wake you up at the Amazon shelter!

How can you help? Take a volunteer vacation to Amazon Shelter! The volunteer vacation program is incredible. You can stay in a bungalow and have the benefit of learning about the Peruvian forest. Much of your time can be spent living with and caring for the animals they are sheltering (from red howler monkeys, to owl monkeys, to red brocket deer, to yellow footed tortoises, anteaters, pumas, achunis, macaws and parakeets!).

Your volunteer time at Amazon Shelter could change animals' lives. For more information on planning a trip visit:

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