Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Summit Municipal Park

Summit is a botanical garden and zoo. It's 20 km from Panama on the road to Gamboa. We usually go a couple of times a year and my kids always enjoy it. The grounds are beautiful and well kept. There are lots of picnic shelters and three playgrounds. There is a nice variety of trees and they are mostly all labeled. There's also an oropendola colony which is always cool to watch. But the big attraction is, of course the zoo.

The zoo has a decent selection of local animals including some big cats and a harpy eagle. There has been a real effort to modernize the zoo and the big cat enclosures are large and modern. It is difficult to see them in the heat of the day when they retreat to their dens. The harpy eagle is in a large enclosure, but it still makes me a little sad to see such a large raptor in a cage. There's an interpretive centre with some film footage of the harpy eagles in the wild. Harpy Eagles are threatened and i think it's worth the trip to Summit just to see the eagle. There is also a tapir. It is so beautiful, if you get to see it awake you will be rewarded with the biggest, soulful, brown eyes you've ever seen.  I would love to see one in the wild someday. The only exhibits I don't really like and can't reccomend, are the monkeys.

It's pretty easy to see monkeys in the wild around Panama. If you go to Parque Metropolitana early in the morning there's a good chance of seeing titi monkeys--which are actually tamarins and are sooo cute. We've seen howler monkeys and capuchins on the trails in Parque Soberania plenty of times. At Summit the monkeys are in older enclosures, and if you go on Sunday, you will probably see people feeding them chips beside the sign exhorting them to not feed the animals. Watching a monkey with orange cheeto dust on its face swing around its cage depresses me. I prefer to see monkeys in the wild.

So Summit is a nice, non-strenuous way to spend an afternoon, particularly with kids.

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