On Day 4 of our Panama trip, we visited the Embera village in the morning. Having planned to spend most of the day there, when we left around 2 pm, we wondered what to do for the rest of the afternoon. Our guide, Raphael, had heard me mention the sloths at the STRI, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Amador Causeway. I had wanted to visit it on our first day out but couldn’t fit it in the schedule.
With time on our hands, he drove us to Punta Culebra, the nature center run by STRI in Panama City. In 1910, just before the construction of the Panama Canal started, the local government invited Smithsonian biologists to do a study of the Panamanian flora and fauna in the canal area. With financial support from then President, Theodore Roosevelt, the researchers performed a complete inventory and perhaps, “one of the world’s first environmental impact studies”, according to the STRI website. Eventually, the study extended to all of Panama.
As I have mentioned in my “Why Panama?” post, this country occupies a unique position in the world acting as a land bridge between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It also possesses an extensive biodiversity, far more than elsewhere in the world. Its location in the tropics also makes it very vulnerable to a variety of climatic changes. All of which go to make it a perfect location for the Smithsonian to study ecodiversity.
The Punta Culebra Nature Center boasts not only of a perfect location but is well designed to provide an easy and fun educational experience. Share a few minutes exploring the Punta Culebra Nature center with us. And if you happen to be in Panama City, do stop by for a visit.