Discovering the national flora and fauna

Panamá, el águila harpía.

This post is also available in: Spanish

Panama has a great diversity of animals and plants and there are many places in the country where you can see them. The majority of the zoos are in reality rescue facilities which also have breeding programs for species that are endangered. The following are just three places that could be of interest for anybody who loves nature.

Panama, the female harpy eagle.

Panama, the female harpy eagle.

Summit Municipal Park is a botanical garden and zoo located on the outskirts of Panama City, on the Gaillard road, kilometer 18 that goes to Gamboa. Its 250 hectare grounds, 55 of which are dedicated to the botanical garden, house a small collection of reptiles, mammals and birds. The harpy eagle enclosure is one of most impressive. The new female bird named Panama who is part of the breeding program, will be celebrating her birthday this Sunday, September 18.

The party is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and there will be folkloric presentations, performances by national artistes, clowns, a children’s costume contest and the traditional birthday cake.

For more details about the Summit National Park visit Parque Municipal Summit on Facebook.

Safarick’s located in the Colón province, near Maria Chiquita town, has Panama’s largest walk-through aviary, over 100 feet long with over twenty different species from the hummingbird to the toucan and many more. It also has a butterfly farm which is home to hundreds of spectacularly colored native butterflies. There are monkey, sloth, raccoon, reptile and ocelot enclosures. The zoo was created by animal lovers with the principal purpose of rescuing and rehabilitating animals that were injured, orphaned or rescued. For more information visit www.safarickszoo.com.

A white cockatoo at El Nispero.

A white cockatoo at El Nispero.

The Nispero Zoo in the Valle de Anton, Cocle province was never planned to be a zoo, it just happened. The owner, an agronomist who runs a small for-profit nursery here, had a large collection of animals and birds which so many people had donated, or abandoned that it just made sense to open a zoo. The 2.8-hectare (7-acre) El Nispero sits at the foot of Cerro Gaital National Monument. There are 55 species of birds with exotic imports from Asia and Africa such as golden pheasants and white peacocks, as well as a few tropical species not seen in any zoo outside Panama. A good representation of endemic animals includes a white-faced capuchin and spider monkey, an ocelot a tigrillo margay, and a couple of tapirs rescued from Manuel Noriega’s home after the invasion.

El Nispero is also home to the brand-new Centro de Conservación de Anfibios de El Valle (EVACC), an amphibian study center sponsored by the Houston, San Antonio, and San Diego zoos. The center will study the bacterium that is wiping out the golden frog, among other amphibians, and work to ensure the amphibians’ survival. The center has aquariums, exhibits, and a video and reading center in English and Spanish. For information call 983-6142.

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