El Nispero (named after a native fruit tree) is a private zoo and plant nursery hidden at the end of a rough dirt road. It covers nearly seven acres at the foot of Cerro Gaital, and its forested grounds are attractive, but most of the animals are in small cages. This is one of the only places you can see the extremely rare golden toad, which has been wiped out in the wild by a fungal disease. Those little yellow-and-black anurans—often mistakenly called frogs—are on
display at the El Valle Amphibian Research Center, funded by several U.S. zoos. Biologists at the center are studying the fungus that is killing the species (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), while facilitating the toad's reproduction in a fungus-free environment. The zoo has many other Panamanian species that you are unlikely to see in the wild, such as jaguars, tapirs, collared peccaries (wild pigs), white-faced capuchin monkeys, and various macaw species. Exotic species such as Asian golden pheasants and white peacocks run the grounds. Most of the animals at El Nispero are former pets that were donated, or confiscated from their owners by government authorities. The tapirs, for example, belonged to former dictator Manuel Noriega.
Calle Carlos Arosemena, 1½ km (1 mi) north of cell tower on Av. Principal, El Valle, 0211, Panama