El Nispero Zoo in El Valle

El Nispero is a zoo regardless of what other guides and sites will tell you. In the beginning, El Nispero was primarily a plant nursery with several animals but thanks to an international animal exchange program the creatures at El Nispero are many and hail from the Americas, Asia, Mexico and even as far away as Madagascar. Of course there are many native Panamanian animals such as the nearly extinct “Rana Dorada”, the Golden Frog.

Open most days form 7 am – 5 pm the charge for visiting El Nispero for non-Panamanian adults is $3.00 and children $2.00. (If you’re Panamanian, subtract $1.00.) I was given a guide named Brian who walked me through the zoo. I was grateful for this as there are may nooks and crannys I would have missed had Brian not been there to lead the way. There is no charge for a guide but a tip of $1 is greatly appreciated. To walk the entire zoo took a little over an hour and Brian added a lot to the experience. He will let you know which animals are edible (and surprisingly they almost all taste like chicken!) and if an animal is from Madagascar he will sing “I like to move it, move it” while pointing them out to you.

There are over 90 different species of animals, many tropical birds, plants, an orchid house and breathtaking scenery. The most impressive thing about the zoo is what I call the Hall of Frogs but is officially known as The El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center. Sponsored in part by several US zoo’s, biologists are studying the fungus that is killing the species and facilitating the Golden Frog’s reproduction in a fungus free environment. Without this research the frog would have long been extinct.

El Nispero is located about 2 km off the main road. There’s good signage showing you were to turn but if you can’t find it just ask anyone and they will point you in the right direction.

The Zoo is set on 7 acres against the Gaital Mountains and National Park. As you’re walking through the zoo take the time to look all around you as the scenery is beautiful and everywhere you turn there is an opportunity for a beautiful photo.

After visiting the zoo, consider walking back into town and along the main road. Along the way you’ll pass many meandering streams, beautiful plant life, lovely landscaped homes restaurants and boutiques that will cater to all your souvenir needs. I don’t like to walk and I was in wedge sandals, still, I found it to be quite lovely and am glad I did not take up the offer to take a cab back into town.

What a great way to spend a day!

DISCLAIMER; If you do not like seeing animals in cages then do not visit El Nispero. If you do not like visiting zoo’s in your home country/city then you will not like El Nispero. This is not the kind of zoo you’ll find in New Orleans, San Francisco or any other major metropolis in the world. It is, a small, privately funded animal park.