Zumalka International- A Look at Animal Life in Honduras

Authored bySuzanne Simard

Hi! My name is Suzanne, a Customer Happiness attendant for Zumalka.  Maybe we’ve already had a chance to chat or talk on the phone in the past.  In case you didn't notice,  I love animals and I also love my work.  This year I have had the amazing opportunity of combining those 2 loves in my life in a great adventure in Honduras.

Many people only know the islands of Honduras, Roatan and Utila or the coast of La Ceiba because they are the tourist places to go.  Yet,  these people miss out on a rare opportunity of seeing way beyond a beach vacation.  This country also offers so many breathtaking natural beauties; divers climates, lifestyles, animals, foods…and my list could go on for a while.  Having heard of an opportunity to visit and live as the locals do in mountain country, I grabbed it!  There,  I was able to see how pets and other animals live and are treated.  Yes,  you guessed it, it's very different!

Here in North America and in many other countries, our pets live an easy life. Some would say "I wish I could be a cat".  Daily feedings, regular grooming and Vet visits....  Unfortunately, this lifestyle is not common to all pets around the world. My visit to Honduras has opened my eyes to animal life in 3rd world countries. Come with me on my adventure and see how animals live in Honduras!!

Honduras- the country

Here we go!! Off to Honduras! First let me give you a mental image of the beautiful country that is Honduras. For most people who travel, Honduras is not the preferred destination, but if you have that adventurous spirit, your visit will be unforgettable.

Looking down over the country from the airplane, you can see the endless range of beautiful mountains and winding rivers. This country thrives on growing and selling local produce such as coffee and plantains. It is not a very rich country despite all the export, but they make up for it in character. These Honduran have a generous and kind spirit.   

Travelling by bus to cross the country you can see so many different ecosystems.  The 'rainforest', very hot and humid for most of the year. The dry planes, you can see what looks like Africa, big leafless trees and sandy ground with a very hot dry sun.  Then,  you can also see the high mountains, pine trees fill the scenery in a combination of palm trees at the foot of the mountains.  Let's just say....you can find the perfect spot for you anywhere in this country.



El Paraiso- Local life

Instead of sticking to the tourist places, I wanted to SEE the people, SEE the animals in regular everyday life. So I headed to the to the mountains in the region of El Paraiso. There the days are hot and the nights are cool. It is common to see 'cowboys' on their horses in town doing their errands. Although the town in itself is small, many people live in the surrounding mountains. 

There, families have large properties to grow coffee plants or other foods to sell in town. I had a chance to live a few days as they do. Living in communal family homes where there is no electricity and bathrooms are outside.   

I have to say the experience of being completely out of cell range and having no amenities that we take for granted was a bit of a shock!  A small wood oven works as a stove and light, the houses are made of a straw and mud mixture.  

They don't have much to call their own yet you learn to be content with the real necessities of life and they are happy with what they have. Also, I learned to actually enjoy and see nature in it's full beauty. At night, I enjoyed standing outside to gaze at the infinite range of stars that twinkled and the moon that seemed so bright we could see outside even without any other light.


Farm animals

My first morning was interesting. Farmers get up at the crack of dawn and the roosters also give us the continuous wake up call. So I got up and followed my 'guide' (a young local boy) to the fields of plantains, oranges, mangos and lemon trees. Along the way around the house and in the fields, chickens are always roaming and pecking.

A few dogs also roam the land defending their territory. Dogs are sooo friendly and playful, they are usually never tied up but know their boundaries and are very dedicated to their master or family. Just beware of walking into someone's property without the owner... dogs can get very protective. This is an excellent security system for most farmers and most homeowners.  

A few days before my arrival the family pig had piglets, they were very cute.  One of the piglets did not survive very long after birth, but all the others happily suckled and are very healthy. All of the extra table scraps and fat went to feeding the pig so she can feed her little ones well.  

Other than that, the landscape is filled with cows, horses and donkeys. The feel is very old fashioned here, I left like I had travelled back in time!

Animals are always keep outside and in their place. No very special treatment is given, but they are well treated because they either serve as helpers around the farm or as a something they can sell later on. Pigs for example can be a big breadwinner if they get nice and fat.   


Town pets

Anywhere in the world you will find animal lovers. I was able to stay with one such person. This girl has 2 dogs and they are her babies. They are always well fed, bathed once a week and have daily tick checks along with lots of TLC. Let me introduce Blacky and Canela. Two ladies I loved spending time with. They were great company and excellent patients.

In most cases, dogs are locked inside the property limits surrounded by tall walls, just like the case of Blacky and Canela. They take their jobs very seriously! The advantage is they are not in so much danger from getting ticks or sicknesses from other dogs, but they will create quite a ruckus barking as soon as other animals or humans walk in front of the gate. As I mentioned, these beautiful fur buddies are great alarm systems, I felt very safe there. Plus, since they are very well taken care of, I was very comfortable petting them and handling them without worrying about wearing gloves. As you can see Canela is liking all this attention while picking off ticks.


Sadly, even with the best tick and flea repellents, they still seem to get a few guests each day. Both Blacky and Canela get their own beds made fresh every night outside with cardboard and big bags to make a humidity barrier under them. Blacky is the favorite here because she is soooo smart and friendly. Although she looks like a big mean dog, she is a big baby and wouldn't hurt a fly. She is also a riot to play with and loves to play tug of war or run off with the broom you were using and then have to chase her to get it back.

The problem with Blacky is that she is obscessed with balls, if you have one, she WANTS it!! If she gets a hold of it, forget it, it will be destroyed in 5 mins. This means she eats plastic, materials of all sorts and all sizes. She suffers from a bit of digestive problems, but some Probiopet and a few of the Hairball product will 'eject' anything from the bowels and keep them healthy.

Canela on the other hand is a bit of a mystery. Her former owners were not very nice to her so she is more cautious with strangers. We were buddies within no time at all because I give her the best head rubs. She loves attention but will be very protective and even jealous. Canela and Blacky are the best of friends and love to play together. But Canela being an older dog, she sometimes get a bit of pain and even has trouble moving her back legs. I found this out when passing my hand on her back hip one time, she bit me from the pain. After further inspection, I found nothing wrong, but the owner mentioned she suffers from occasional paralysis.  She was fine soon after and running around again. She still has emotional and a few physical scars from her past life, but I was so happy to see how well she is doing now with a very loving and caring home.   

Another scenario.  Another family I visited have a dog and a cat. This family is more an example of how most people here treat their pets.  They have such beautiful animals, yet they are not considered companions but as a tool or appliance in the house.... there for a purpose more than pleasure.  They are very unused to human attention because they are told to get out of the way, or get outside.  At first they were very skittish and thought I may hurt them.  But once I gained their confidence, they love the human touch (especially the golden retriever).  These pet owners, see the usefulness of animals for security and also for keeping the mice at bay instead of hiring a company.  Yet they do not necessarily have any affection for their pets.   

I was so happy to spend some time there to really see how animals live when living in town. Many dogs just walking around the town streets and cats are very good at finding hiding places which usually makes them antisocial or wild. I tried to get close to some of the cats but they are not used to much love so they are very independent, but still just as cute!

In both 'pet family' cases I would say that the mentality here for animals is to keep them in their place.  You will never see someone walking around with a dog in their purse while they go shopping.  Dogs are very, very rarely allowed inside the bedroom or even in the house.  Usually dogs always sleep outside.  In the animal kingdom, this creates the master vs. animal boundry.   Because dogs have the pack and pack leader instincts, this does work well with their personality.  They 'fear' and respect their masters and in return, dogs are faithful and protective...even if they are not treated like kings.


Homeless animals

On my trip I was also able to travel across the country to see how the tropical side of Honduras lives. I am sad to say that animals living on the coast are much worse off in most cases. Unless dogs have a very caring owner with money for regular check ups and medication, they end up being left outside and catching many illnesses. I was mad to see locals throwing rocks at dogs getting too close trying to scavenge for food. But then I did understand that those dogs carry bugs and parasites you do NOT want to get!!  These poor creatures are so thin you see there bones and their skin is blotchy and furless with many scars and wounds.   

Sad but true, dogs living in a hot climate like this have to fight off many more bugs and even fight each other or other animals for food. Also, many owners do not go to the expense of neutering....this means more dogs and cats and no place for them to live. So as much as I wanted to set on a mission to saving all these animals and nursing them back to health, the situation is too big to take on. In most cases, they would need constant care and a very attentive owner.  

Honduras being a poor country, most people either do not have pets or do not take care of them. I have seen some heartbreaking scenes here, but I prefer not showing you any of those pictures.   


Animal Life in Honduras- The conclusion

I have had such a wonderful time in my journey here and have seen an incredible amount of different animals... The saddest part is that I know that there is soooo much more to see here.  I have yet to visit the bird and monkey sanctuaries to observe all the wildlife. My time seeing local life for pets and animals here in Honduras has been so rewarding. I wouldn't change my experience for anything in the world.

If you are an animal lover like me and everyone else here at Zumalka, you will share my feelings of warmth and endearment to all animals in this world who are mistreated, forgotten or abandoned.  They all have so much love to give and no one to show it to.   We may not be able to go around the world to save all these animals....but we can certainly do our part at home and for shelters.  Share your love for animals!   

Wondering what YOU can do? We are currently undertaking a new task of finding local needy animal rescues who can benefit from our help!  

COMING SOON! We will announce a new Promo that will spread animal love to more than just your pets at home.  Stay tuned for this special announcement coming soon to your email!  

I know how most of you feel about your pets, we have often talked together about it.  I also know that there was so much more I would have loved to do for the animals I crossed paths with in Honduras.  So, soon we will be able to take our first steps together to help our less fortunate furry friends find a good home, or at least good food, good shelter and GOOD HEALTH.


About the author

Suzanne Simard
Suzanne Simard


Suzanne Simard has loved animals all her life and now being part of the Zumalka family’s ‘Customer Happiness’ team means being able to combine her love of animals and homeopathy all-in-one!

Homeopathy has been a great influence in her own life so she now has full confidence in it’s power to help pets as well.

She also spends a lot of time in underdeveloped countries doing volunteer work. Wherever she goes, animals have always brought her so much joy and satisfaction. Helping them to be happy and healthy is a joy beyond compare.

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