The Asociacion Panamericana Para La Conservacion, or APPC to minimize confusion, is a wildlife rehabilitation facility in the Gamboa Rainforest surrounding the Panama Canal that takes in all manner of local wildlife, from porcupines to jaguars, and a whole lot of sloths. The APPC takes in a number of animals due to problems like loss of habitat, natural predators, and sloths being significantly slower than cars. The APPC even has a few resident animals who are not suitable for re-release into the wild due to the nature of their injuries or the amount of time spent in captivity. One of their more famous residents is a three toed sloth named Coquito that pays regular visits to guests at the neighboring Gamboa Rainforest Resort.
The Asociacion Panamericana Para La Conservacion just opened a brand new facility on the grounds of the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. The President of APPC, Néstor Correa and his wife/director (of APPC not him) Yiscel Yángüez, bring Coquito and some of his wild friends by the Gamboa Rainforest Resort every evening at 5pm to give a free presentation to guest of the resort about local wildlife and conservation efforts and give the guest the chance to get an up close look at these adorable slow pokes. In case you were wondering, you can look but not touch or take home with you. The APPC has a pretty strict no snuggling or smuggling policy.
If the free presentation whets your appetite for more sloths, tours of the new APPC facility are also available by appointment for a donation of $7 for adults and $4 for children, with children under 4 admitted free. This donation goes towards the completion of the new facility, expenses for the animals currently in their care and their team’s continued conservation and education efforts. The tour offers a glimpse at some of the less portable animals that couldn’t make it to the presentation at the resort as well as a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of the rehabilitation facility. If you’re lucky, you may even get to touch one!
As of December 2015 the animals in their care at the facility included 2 sloths (both 2 and 3 toed varieties), an iguana, a bunny, a few turtles, a very friendly porcupine, and a beautiful jaguar named Fiona. Though if you would like to meet Fiona, you’d better hurry. She is bound for a zoo in West Palm Beach, FL soon.
There are all sorts of animal tourism opportunities out there, from riding and elephant to taking a selfie with a tiger, but The Asociacion Panamericana Para La Conservacion is a wildlife tourism experience you can feel good about. While it’s not exactly bottle feeding a baby tiger (which you shouldn’t do for a number of reasons), there is no mistaking the passion of Néstor Correa, Yiscel Yángüez, and the entire team at the Asociacion Panamericana Para La Conservacion. You can rest assured that there is no mistreatment or exploitation of the spectacular animals in their care and your small donation goes to a great cause.
If you can’t make it to Panama anytime soon, but would still like to help out with the care of these cuties, the Asociacion Panamericana Para La Conservacion does accept tax deductible donations through paypal on their website, http://www.appcpanama.org/. Coquito and his buddies will thank you for it.