Who we are
amaZOOnico is a non-governmental organization that was founded in 1993 by a Swiss-Quichua couple, Angelika Raimann and Remigio Canelos. Together with Christine von Steiger, they wanted to protect the fauna of the Amazon, creating a center that would receive, treat, rehabilitate, and reintroduce wild animals that had been confiscated from illegal trade.
In order to fulfill the plans for reintroduction it was important to create another project that would be exclusively dedicated to protection the rainforest itself, working with the community towards a common goal of sustainable and practical resource use. Such was the birth of Selva Viva: a large umbrella project which would come to include 1750 hectares of protected forest, a trilingual school for the neighbouring community, and two Eco-lodges which promote ecotourism.The project has been widely embraced by the nearby community and those who visit it daily, and has come to be well-recognized as a sanctuary of care and respect for wildlife.The driving force behind amaZOOnico are the Padrinos, volunteers, and tourists. Each day, they take care of the work with the animals, educational campaigns, the maintenance of the infrastructure, the collection of funds and the general upkeep of the center. But the true heart and soul of the project of course are the animals themselves. Each an individual character and personality, they fill our days with wonder and joy, and inspire the project to always continue on.
Founders and Team members
Since its beginning amaZOOnico has counted on deeply committed people who work ceaselessly for the well-being of the forest and its animals. Meet a few of the people who founded this project and those who work every day to keep it going...
Angelika was a true defender of the natural world. She met Remigio during a trip to the rainforest in 1989. Together they shared a desire to embark on a mission to protect the forest and its animals. They met Christine von Steiger who shared their dream, and working together they managed to begin amaZOOnico in 1993. Angelika was a guardian of the forest, the animals, and the Quichua community, taking on the challenge of raising local environmental awareness, starting reintroduction projects for wild animals, supporting local schools, and fighting for a protected forest. Tragically on April 29, 2011 she died in a car accident en route to Puyo. Her energy and presence is still deeply felt in all aspects of the project, and it lives on thanks to her.
The volunteers of amaZOOnico are the force that drives the center. Their work makes life in amaZOOnico possible. Every day they care for the animals through cleaning, feeding, and providing enrichments. The volunteers of amaZOOnico come from all over the world and each one brings unique insights and perspectives that drive daily life at the center. amaZOOnico couldn't exist without them! If you would like to join us as a volunteer visit our volunteering page.
It was working as a naturalist guide that Remigio came to know Angelika. Together, along with Christine von Steiger, they shared a vision to protect the local flora and fauna of the region, and started amaZOOnico. As a member of the Quichua community, Remigio brings a unique and very necessary perspective to the project. With more than 20 years of experience working in the field of wildlife protection, he has an extensive knowledge of the behaviour, handling and care of various species of mammals, birds, and reptiles which provides a great support to the center. His children Jan and Silvia who grew up on the grounds of the project will one day be its future custodians.
Our staff consists of a General Manager, 2 Coadministradors, a Veterinarian, a Volunteer Assistant, a Chef, and a Chief of Maintenance. All of these positions are held by people who are long-term members of amaZOOnico, facilitating a deeper knowledge of the animals and the overview of the project. Thanks to them we have been able to start new projects, oversee the daily functioning of the center, and further develop the relations with the community and partner organizations.
Christine von Steiger
Arriving in Ecuador in 1989, along with her brother Rene and her husband Siegfried, Christine was travelling throughout the country when they arrived at the rainforest. In the province of Napo, she came to know Remigio and Angelika and they began a shared dream of starting a project where they could care for and protect nature and its animals. The dream became reality in the form of amaZOOnico. In 2001 they began the school Sacha Yachana Huasi Christina with the goal of giving new opportunities to the Quichua children of the region
The cooperative "Padrinos del amaZOOnico" ("amaZOOnico's Godparents") was founded in 2005 by a group of former volunteers who were interested in continuing to support the center after they returned home. The Padrinos regularly organize events with the goal of raising funds for the project, they write and distribute Sachamanda (an annual journal about the work in the center), they keep their members informed about changes in amaZOOnico and help find new volunteers. For more information about getting involved you can contact Martina Louw via her email: email@example.com