If you are looking for laid back, educational and enjoyable stay- Jungla de Panama is a must during your Panama trip! The owners are dedicated to taking care of the animals as well as educating and offering personal tours for all who visit.
Here is a brief explanation of our stay and what we learned:
We were supposed to stay for one night, but enjoyed it so much that we canceled our other plans and stayed for three. In this time we were able to see day to day operations as well as some of the behind the scenes work that goes into the refuge itself. We met the owners (Luis and Dorothy) and their children who were always ready to educate us about the animals (and Spanish, as we are minimally bilingual). We learned the backgrounds of the animals in the refuge and the reasons that they were there. In addition to all of the valuable animal information, I was shocked to learn that the refuge relies strictly on donations, whether it be food or monetary. The refuge receives no assistance from the government-they are not a non profit agency.
Luckily we had an understanding prior to our visit that this is not a zoo, it is a refuge. After reading other reviews, I wonder if there is a poor understanding of what a refuge is. Please remember "Most refuges focus on rehabilitation, wild release, education, emergency care, public education, shelter, and partnership." (Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5548522) That is what the owners (who have over 25 years in wildlife experience) focus on. If the size of the sanctuary creates an issue for you when you visit, why not donate time, food, materials or money to help the owners provide for these animals rather than state it is a poor value for your money?
Aside from the animals, Jungla de Panama has various choices for traveler's who wish to stay overnight. There is a hostel, a small apartment and (from what we hear) plans for a bed and breakfast in the future..onsite! Additionally there is a small bar/restaurant (try the pizza Frank makes, it is incredible!) onsite which allows visitors to relax and enjoy the sites overall atmosphere.
In a nutshell the Luis and Dorothy do a wonderful service for not only the animals-but for the community and for visitors by providing education, interaction and most important a big heart for all species, human or otherwise.
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