Animals along the Rio Chagres
biggest croc every found in Panamá measures 5.5 m (18 ft) and weighs in at 998 kg (2,200 lbs). That privately-owned, 111-year-old reptile is named Cassie (short for Cassius Clay). Cassie would be about as big as the tourist boat seen in photo #2. Best to depart the river--rapidly--if you encounter one that size.
three fatal attacks by crocs along the Panamá canal during the last three years. Typically, the crocs go after fishermen along the bank or people wading or swimming close to shore. The attacks are sudden and the croc disappears underwater with its victim within seconds. None of the bodies of the three victims were ever recovered.
Cebus capucinus is found throughout Panamá. The males average 3.7 kg (8.09 lbs) and the females about 7.7 kg (5.9 lbs). Because they are so widespread and plentiful, their conservation status is one of "least concern."
Black-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps) is considered "critically endangered." 80% of the species have been lost in the last 45 years due to predation and loss of habitat. In captivity, they have been known to live for 24 years.
two-toed sloth (there is also a three-toed version) kicks back in the crook of a tree branch. I took numerous shots and, after examining the photos, I discovered that the creature had not moved an inch the whole time. The wild sloths are not as laid-back as those in captivity. The sloths in zoos sleep an average of 15 hours a day, while the wild ones only snooze for 9 1/2. Wild or free, their metabolism is so slow that they only urinate or defecate once a week. Their toes are shaped in such a way that some have been found dead, still clinging to the tree branch from which they were hanging when they died. Too lazy to let go?
Trachemys venusta panamensis is the Panamanian species of a turtle that ranges from Mexico to Colombia.
Animals of the Nispero Zoo and Botanical Garden
Nispera is located in El Valle de Anton, a village in Coclé Province about two hours by bus from Panamá City. The village is located at the bottom of the caldera of an ancient volcano. The ridges surrounding El Valle rise 1000 m (3280 ft) above the valley floor, forming the caldera's lip The altitude gives the area a cool, moist climate, very welcome after the warm, humid lowlands. The town and surrounding area are popular tourist attractions. Admission to the Nispera Zoo and Botanical Garden is $3.00. For a Google map showing the location of El Valle de Anton, click here.
Incilius coniferus can be found from Nicaragua to Ecuador in lowlands and mountain forests. The toad breeds in ponds, rivers, and streams. The population status is "lesser concern" with some threats coming from habitat loss and pollution. This guy was about the size of the hardball used in a baseball game.
Leptodactylus savagei stretches from the lowland jungles of Honduras to the mountains of Colombia. The population status is also "lesser concern". It faces the same threats as the Climbing Toad. The Smokey Jungle Frog is a bit bigger than the Climbing Toad. This one looked about the size of a softball.
Dendrobates auratus can be found from Central America to northwestern South America and its conservation status is "least concern." As to its name, the frog exudes a poison that is strong enough to stop a human heart. However, it only releases the poison if it feels threatened. Some people even keep these guys as pets. Talk about living dangerously! On the other hand, you could also be the proud owner of Cassie.
Cockatoos are not native to Panamá and their normal habitat is Indonesia. However, all the animals in Nispera are rescues, so this guy can be considered a naturalized citizen. When excited, they raise their plumes, as you can see above. Cockatoos can't speak quite as well as parrots, but they nevertheless tend to be quite friendly and chatty. They love cuddling with people. One got separated from its owner and sat in a tree plaintively calling "Daddy! Daddy1". A concerned woman came looking for the small child she assumed was in distress and was dumbfounded when she realized it was a White Cockatoo.
Lophura nycthemera) is another rescued resident of Nispera. His normal habitat is Southeast Asia and eastern and southern China.
Ostriches are flightless and are native to Africa. They are often found in desert areas quite different from the cool cloudy highlands of Panamá.
the tapir is the largest land mammal in Central America. It is a solitary animal that likes to forage at night on leaves and fruit and soak in cool ponds with just its snout above water. While it is herbivorous, it can be dangerous and has been known to charge and gore humans when threatened.
genus Dasyprocta. In addition to pacas, the agouti are related to guinea pigs. They tend to be smaller than pacas, weighing up to about 6 kg (13.2 lbs). In the wild, they flee humans, but become trusting in captivity. Agouti can run very fast and will keep a pack of dogs occupied for hours.
Jaguars are the largest of the cats that live in Panamá, or the whole Western Hemisphere for that matter. They are exceeded in size only by the African lion and the Asian tiger. They hunt by stealth, not speed, and will ambush unwary prey. Unlike other cats, who strangle their prey with their jaws, jaguars pierce the skull and brain with their fangs.
Olmecs (1500 BC) viewed jaguars as a link with the underworld because of their preference for hunting in the dark.
This completes Part 8 of my Panamá series. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment and leave your thoughts in the Comments section below, or email me directly. If you leave a question in the Comments section PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.
Hasta luego, Jim