Second chances are needed to find purpose and to possibly even change the world. It’s wild to think that you may never know what someone or something is capable of until offered that grace. Trashcan was found in a dumpster; I battled heroin addiction for over a decade. This honey bear and I were given the opportunity to live two lives in one. Our second chances brought us together, and we share some unique parallels to our stories … or I should say: our story.

Trashcan was found in a dumpster

A little over three and a half years ago, Trashcan was found in a dumpster. Trash is an exotic rainforest mammal called a kinkajou, aka a honey bear. They are from South and Central America and get into the U.S. and other parts of the world because of the pet trade. The sanctuary who rehabbed and donated her to my organization told me she was thrown away. When I inquired as to why they thought that, the staff member replied: “We just do.” I didn’t care to ask anymore questions.

The day Trashcan and I first met. I was just over a year sober (April 2018)

I had second chances before, but this time was different

When Trashcan was starting her rehabilitation journey, I was about 8 months into mine. In March 2017, I was arrested after a 5-month relapse bender on heroin. Thank God I wound up in the jail cell. Thank god I was given another chance. I was no stranger to 12-step meetings and treatment centers. But unbeknownst to me at that time, I had been unfamiliar with true surrender and humility. That pivotal moment brought me to my knees.

I lost everything. It was a perfect storm of my addiction, fair-weather friends wanting to see me fail, and personal consequences. My former animal organization and reputation were diminished, I crushed my family and friends, and my dignity was nonexistent. Fast-forward to now — I had no idea I would be blessed to celebrate 4 years sober the same month I am celebrating 3 years operating the only kinkajou-specific organization in the world called Kinkatopia. Just like Trashcan didn’t know she was going to evolve into a TikTok queen thriving in her forever home.

Trashcan’s acclimation was much like me in early sobriety

We were emotionally unstable, heartbroken, and swallowed up in a world we felt lost in. After 3 months of quarantine and one-on-one interactions, Trash was ready to join one of the large enclosures with 3 other kinkajous. I prepared for this moment with everything I had. And at that time, there was little information to go on! Since Kinkatopia has really paved the way for kinkajou care, Trash and I were figuring it out as we went at the time. After the introductions, the rest is history. She continued to blossom and now flourishes. She owner her second chance and ran with it.

Get the instant fun of coloring these kinkajous

I am blessed to have the sobriety I do today primarily because of my High Power and 12-step recovery program … throw some professional therapy in there for spice. Someone paved the way for people like me, and now I’ve paved the way for kinkajous like Trash.  

A recent picture of Trash and me, almost 4 years sober. Check out the glow up.

The queen of Trash Talk

Later last year, Trashcan found fame in the world of TikTok (@kinkatopia). She spreads the good kinkajou word of self love, compassion for others, and sends smile out across the world. But she does so as her sassy, fierce, talkative self — so we call it Trash Talk! It’s incredible to see how this animal … this organization … has touched everyone from people in the midst of chemo to battling addiction. Individuals of all ages. And literally, souls across this vast Earth. She was just an animal in a dumpster, now she is the queen of Trash Talk. I was just a heroin addict, now I am a recovering woman of sobriety. Second chances can impact the world, and that is what this honey bear and Mother of Kinkajous intend to do.


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Alexandra Ashe
Alexandra is a sober woman who loves animals, writing, nature, horror movies, fitness, and self-improvement. After suffering a relapse in late 2016, she revamped her lifestyle and has been sober since March 2017. She is also the CEO and founder of Kinkatopia, which is the only kinkajou-specific organization in the world. Alexandra literally lives and breathes kinkajous — in addition to working a full-time career, taking care of her health, and giving back to the world in other ways. She is a woman on a mission ... the Mother of Kinkajous. Follow Alexandra’s articles to relish her experiences staying sober and running a kinkajou sanctuary. There is never a dull moment, that’s a promise. Kinkatopia.org

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