Panama Summit Zoo is a great place to take your children. For some reason it gets short thrift in all the guidebooks we have on Panama. I just cannot understand why. OK, it doesn’t have the largest collection of animals in the world. What it does have is a lot of native Central American species, including an ocelot (very growly), a maygar (very playful, just like a super-glamorous pet cat) and Geoffroy’s tamarin, a tiny species of ‘so ugly it’s cute’ monkey.
It also has a fabulous plant nursery where you can pick up small trees for less than $2, as well as lots of food and drink stalls – not the kind of levels of cleanliness you would get in Europe or the US, but decent, cheap fare. If you don’t want to brave the food, take your own and eat at one of the many picnic tables. The in-the-know locals were all doing this. For the more adventurously-minded there is a zip-slide from the top of the summit.
I took this extreme close-up of a crocodile at Summit Zoo. There was just one level of cage protection between people and animals meaning the animals were (mostly) extremely friendly towards their visitors. I am used to seeing tropical animals shivering in zoos in the UK – it seemed to me that they were more relaxed and happy in this tropical, less regimented zoo.
There were also areas of fencing that were broken, cordoned off with just yellow crime-scene tape. The danger! So, yes, I suppose it is all a bit ramshackle, but with huge play area provision for children, including an old train as well as more conventional slides and climbing frames, I would definitely recommend it to any parents out there. It is all quite a refreshing change after the UK ‘Health and Safety’ culture. Oh, and did I mention? Admission charges $1 for adults, free for children.