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Sunday, September 21 2014 @ 12:05 PM EDT

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3rd Grand Bazaar by Animal Angels

Animals & PetsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email: "The 3rd Grand Bazaar by Animal Angels (Angeles de los Animales, Panama) This fund-raising Bazaar is being held to raise funds needed to be able to continue the work of helping animals in need. This year's activity will have greater reach and impact, with an estimated attendance of 1000 to 1500 people. The craft pavilion will have 40 to 50 participating craftswomen and men displaying their creations. This is a fund-raising event, and the idea is to increase the awareness of the general public about the needs and suffering of stray animals, and also to let people know about the associations, foundations and groups that are working on behalf of animal welfare here in Panama. Place: The Totumas, ATLAPA Date: Sunday November 21, 2010, Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm Admission: $ 2.00 for adults and $ 1.00 for seniors, pensioners and children under 12yrs. Please come and enjoy seeing some beautiful hand-made arts and crafts, and feel good knowing that you will be helping to bring an end to the daily misery endured by homeless cats and dogs!"

Copyright 2010 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Is the President of Panama Trying on a Strongman Role?

Animals & PetsBy TIM ROGERS for Time - When supermarket tycoon Ricardo Martinelli was running for president of Panama in 2009, he cleverly embraced the nickname his critics had given him — el loco (the crazy man) — and spun it into a campaign slogan: "We crazies are the majority!" By claiming ownership, Martinelli disarmed some of the less than flattering stories about his temperament and was swept into office with a convincing 60% of the vote. But a year-and-a-half after Martinelli took office with promises to make Panama a first-world country, critics claim el loco is living up to his billing. Opponents claim the grocer-turned-president is becoming increasingly authoritarian and arbitrary. His alleged abuse of the separation of powers, disregard for labor rights and the environment, and intolerance toward protest have some analysts wondering if Panama's young democracy is sliding back toward its strongman past.

The president's management style was evident with the passage of a controversial reform to the labor code that included a slew of other legislative odds and ends — an over-stuffed document that was appropriately dubbed "The Sausage Law." At Martinelli's direction, the bill, which was packaged as a measure to develop commercial aviation, was rammed through the congressional sausage grinder without any serious debate during an extraordinary weekend session held last June while the rest of the country was distracted by the World Cup. Confusion and labor unrest followed the ratification, leading to a 10-day labor strike by banana workers in the western border region of Changiunola who feared it would limit their right to organize in unions, bargain collectively and protest. Police clashed violently with the mostly indigenous banana workers, leaving at least two dead and more than 100 injured.

"After the elections, Martinelli started to show his claws," says Mitchell Doens, secretary-general of the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). "He thinks he can run the country like he runs a supermarket. But it's one thing to govern a country, and it's another thing to order people around in a supermarket." The criticism is ironic because the PRD produced anti-democratic military leaders Gen. Omar Torrijos and Gen. Manuel Noriega. But, says Doens, Martinelli is like Noriega because he "doesn't respect constitutional guarantees and doesn't respect the rules of democracy.

According to political analyst Arturo Cruz, a professor of politics at Latin America's INCAE Business School, the Panamanian president's "authoritarian tendencies" in politics are consistent with his behavior in the private sector. "This is a man of great wealth who was ruthless in business and then created his own successful political party. He has an incredible sense of self and believes he can get away with anything he wants." Heather Berkman, a political risk analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Eurasia Group, says Martinelli's supermarket-style of "mercurial micromanagement " has made him a wildcard in government. "The strong influence that Martinelli's personality has on policymaking contributes to a level of uncertainty regarding decisionmaking."

A Panamanian of Italian descent, the U.S.-educated Martinelli is the owner of Panama's Super 99 supermarket chain and several other successful businesses. Though he held two government posts under previous administrations, he was viewed as a political outsider when he ran for president in 2009 on the ticket of the Democratic Change party, which he organized in 1998 to run for the presidency. Critics say he has used his office and a campaign to curb corruption to go after his political enemies. They accuse his government of tapping phone lines and detaining activists without due cause. Press freedom watchdogs have criticized Martinelli's government for cracking down on freedom of expression by threatening and attacking reporters, both verbally and physically.

Critics say that Martinelli's strong-arm policies have deep roots in history. Despite Panama's robust economy (which has a bit of a first-world glimmer), the political system is still stuck with third world habits. "This government is very tropical," says leftist activist and university economics professor Juan Jovane. "And you can't become a first world country without democracy."

Yet Martinelli seems to respond to pressure — both internal and external. Harsh international criticism led the president to suspend the labor reform law and negotiate with union leaders and other sectors. As a result of those talks, Martinelli announced Oct. 11 that his government will scrap the "Sausage Law" and replace it with six less objectionable bills. Meanwhile, after news that his approval rating had dropped 40 points over the last year, he is apparently trying out a kinder and gentler approach to having his way. For example, on Oct. 6, he pardoned two TV journalists who were sentenced to a year in jail for defaming an ex-government official.

Congressman Hugo Moreno, a leader of the Panamenista Party allied with the president's ruling coalition, says that Martinelli has on "various occasions" invited other politicians to a working breakfast to exchange ideas and consult on various projects. Moreno says Martinelli's decisions don't always seem to reflect those breakfast consultations, but says "That's why we pay him to be president." The business sector also defends Martinelli — even if in relative terms. Armel Gonzalez, a Nicaraguan land developer who left his native country in 2007 after Sandinista officials allegedly tried to extort $4 million from one of his projects, says doing business in Panama is easy by comparison. "The problem in Latin American countries is there is a lot of disorder and abuse. So when a leader comes along and imposes order, the criticism begins automatically. But he's doing an excellent job," says Gonzalez.

Doing an excellent job by Nicaraguan standards, however, may not be the threshhold Panamanians expected Martinelli to aim for. Since voting el loco into office, most of Panama now has a lower tolerance for political craziness.

Editor's Comment: Excuse me? Please cite the poll that showed Martinelli's approval rating dropping by 40 percent. As far as I know, it didn't happen. He hit a high of like 85% right after the election, dropped during the whole Law 30 thing, and has since recovered to almost 70% approval rating. This article is HIGHLY biased against the right-leaning businessman Ricardo Martinelli, not even slightly surprising considering that it comes from the "left of Stalin" Time Magazine. Innocent readers won't know that the PRD Secretary General Mitchell Doens is Martinelli's hated political nemesis - who would say or do anything if it would harm Martinelli's political position. At least they did identify Juan Jovane as a "leftist activist" - but they failed to say that he's practically a communist who is the de-facto head of the Hugo Chavez loving left-wing student groups at the University of Panama - all rabidly anti-American by the way. The article also failed to point out that it was PRD controlled judges in the JUDICIAL SYSTEM that sentenced the journalists in a political move to hurt Martinelli, who responded by issuing pardons (and for his trouble other politicians are even challenging those.) The reality on the ground in Panama is that for the most part Martinelli still enjoys an approval rating in the high 60's% range. The economy is flat-out kicking ass compared to the rest of Latin America and most of the rest of the world, for that matter. And, his plans and policies are just now getting started (with the Metro system, cleaning up the Bay of Panama, new buses, Panama Canal expansion ongoing, etc.) The real bulk of the good news has yet to hit. While there's no doubt that Martinelli has "strong man" tendencies - for the most part he's doing exactly what the public is demanding of him. This article focuses too much, in my opinion, on Martinelli's political critics and not enough on the vast majority who really like what he's doing. And, the author either didn't know or ignored the fact that the labor unions went to war over Law 30 because it threatened their ability to automatically collect union dues from everyone - even people who were not part of the union. Hello? Truth and fairness in reporting at Time magazine? I think not.

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Houdini the pigeon flies 5,200 from Dudley to Panama

Animals & PetsBy Adam Aspinall, Sunday Mercury - A PIGEON called Houdini lived up to the name after vanishing on a cross-Channel race and turning up in Central America – 5,200 miles from her Midland home. Owner Darren Cubberley, of Dudley, released the bird five weeks ago. But he was stunned after receiving a phone call from Panama City telling him Houdini was alive and well.
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Crocodile Captured on Albrook

Animals & PetsIt took officials from the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) and the Red Cross more than three hours to capture an enormous crocodile what as spotted in a water drainage ditch located in front of the passenger terminal of the Marcos A. Gelabert International Airport at Albrook. Spectators were left with their mouths hanging open when they saw the size of the animal. They first tried to capture it using a small nylon rope, but that proved to be insufficient for the task, and it broke under the weight of the animal. Eventually they were able to haul the crocodile onto dry land and load it into the back of a pickup truck. Officials said another crocodile was captured in the same area about three years ago. (Telemetro)

Please visit thislink to see video of the capture. This animal was probably more than three meters long, weighing in at about 800 pounds or so. Here, kitty, kitty...

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30 frog species, including 5 unknown to science, killed off by amphibian plague in Panama

Animals & Pets Jeremy Hance (mongabay.com) With advanced genetic techniques, researchers have drawn a picture of just how devastating the currently extinction crisis for the world's amphibians has become in a new study published in the Proceedings of the Nation Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Studying frog populations using DNA barcoding in Panama's Omar Torrijos National Park located in El Copé researchers found that 25 known species and 5 unknown species have vanished since 1998. None have returned. Amphibians are threatened in many parts of the world by pollution, habitat loss, invasive species, over-exploitation, pesticides, and climate change, yet the big killer of the world's amphibians is disease: chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease, is wiping out frogs even in the world's most untouched habitats. To determine just how devastating chytridiomycosis has become, researchers with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) looked at the well-surveyed Omar Torrijos National Park in Panama. Surveys had discovered 63 species of frogs in the park prior to the disease's arrival. Using DNA barcoding, however, researchers were able to identify 11 species that had been unknown to science, bringing the total to 74 species. Five of the unknown species had also vanished due to the disease. The Panamanian marsupial frog, Hemiphractus fasciatus, is being tested for the amphibian-killer, chytridiomycosis. Image courtesy of Andrew J. Crawford. "It's sadly ironic that we are discovering new species nearly as fast as we are losing them," said Andrew Crawford, former postdoctoral fellow at STRI and member of the Círculo Herpetológico de Panamá, in a press release. "Our DNA barcode data reveal new species even at this relatively well-studied site, yet the field sampling shows that many of these species new to science are already gone here."

According to the paper, since arriving the disease has wiped out over 40 percent of the park's total amphibian species, and one-third of the amphibians' evolutionary history. "It's like the extinction of the dinosaurs. The areas where the disease has passed through are like graveyards; there's a void to be filled and we don't know what will happen as a result," says Karen Lips, associate professor at the University of Maryland and co-author. Lips established the first amphibian monitoring programs in the area after the crisis was discovered.

While DNA barcoding, which uses short genetic markers to quickly identify species, is not without its critics who call it unreliable in certain circumstances, it has become an increasingly popular tool for biological studies and conservation work. "This is the first time that we've used genetic barcodes—DNA sequences unique to a given species—to characterize an entire amphibian community," says Eldredge Bermingham, STRI director and co-author. "STRI has also done barcoding on this scale for tropical trees on in our forest dynamics-monitoring plot in Panama. The before-and-after approach we took with the frogs tells us exactly what was lost to this deadly disease—33 percent of their evolutionary history."

According to the IUCN Red List, 30 percent of the world' amphibians are threatened with extinction. Researchers say that in the very least 120 species of amphibians have vanished in the last three decades.

CITATION: Andrew J. Crawford, Karen R. Lips, and Eldredge Bermingham. Epidemic disease decimates amphibian abundance, species diversity, and evolutionary history in the highlands of central Panama. PNAS.

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VEE: Two Cases Reported in Panama

Animals & PetsThe Office of the Kentucky State Veterinarian reports that during the second week in June, government officials in Panama reported two confirmed equine cases of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE). The report cited two deceased horses to be part of a group of 21 "village horses." Control measures include vaccination and movement restrictions. This preliminary information provides no evidence or suggestion that horses importing into Kentucky or the United States are at an elevated risk. The Office of the Kentucky State Veterinarian will continue to monitor the progression of the outbreak and associated investigation. VEE is a non-contagious viral infection of horses and other equids that can cause a severe and typically fatal encephalitis/encephalomyelitis, which is defined as an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. (thehorse.com)
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Exotic Bird Ownership in Panama? Experts Please Step Up To The Mike...

Animals & Pets By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I received the following via email this morning: "Don, I really enjoy your web site and blogs. We own a house in the village of san carlos since 2007. I plan to retire in about 2 years so usually use it summer and spring break-I am a teacher. Last Spring while in el Valle we were stopped by some locals trying to sell young Macaws and Toucans. We assumed they were black market and declined. However, I have had exotic birds and would like to buy a Toucan. Do they sell them legally in Panama? If so, how do I find the bird retailers. Can they be exported to the states. I live in south Florida in Palm Beach County. Keep up a great and informative site and any information you can provide. Sincerely, Gary"

Man, I have no idea. I came close to buying a really sweet hand raised Cockatoo from a pet store in Panama City that had just opened up. This was one of the first birds they had imported, and it came from a dealer in Florida. It was obviously had raised, simply loved people, and to this day I wish I had bought that bird. Anyway, I know there are both legal and illegal bird trades in the Republic of Panama, however I have no idea about the requirements for paperwork or documentation that might be necessary for you to be able to bring a bird purchased in Panama back to the United States. I'm hoping some of the bird lovers out there who know all about this stuff will step up and provide some intelligent answers. Anyway, great question. Let's figure it out.

Copyright 2010 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Two new frog species discovered in Panama's fungal war zone

Animals & PetsScience Centric - Trying to stay ahead of a deadly disease that has wiped out more than 100 species, scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute continue to discover new frog species in Panama: Pristimantis educatoris, from Omar Torrijos National Park, and P. adnus from Darien Province near the Colombian border. In 1989 researchers realised that frogs were dying around the world. Then they identified the cause: a fungal disease called chytridiomycosis. In 2004 Karen Lips, associate professor at the University of Maryland, sounded the alarm that the disease was devastating highland frogs in Central Panama and spreading across the country to the east. 'We are working as hard as we can to find and identify frogs before the disease reaches them, and to learn about a disease that has the power to ravage an entire group of organisms,' said Roberto Ibanez, research scientist at STRI and local director of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.

Since 2005 research institutions and zoos from Panama and the United States have scrambled to collect healthy frogs east of the infected area - to save them from extinction. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project unites eight institutions including STRI and the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, along with Panama's environmental authority, ANAM, in a new effort to raise captive frogs in Panama at Summit Nature Park with support from the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Centre. While collecting at Omar Torrijos National Park, Lips' team noticed a common frog much bigger than specimens collected elsewhere. Mason Ryan and Tom Giermakowski, from the Museum of Southwestern Biology and the University of New Mexico, compared the frogs' feet and toes with frogs in museum collections, concluding that the bigger frogs were actually a new species. They named this new species P. educatoris. The species name, educatoris, honours Jay M. Savage, emeritus professor of biology at the University of Miami, who taught several generations of students about tropical frogs. Educatoris actually has a double meaning, because females of this species also nurture and care for their developing eggs.

In 2008, researchers first detected the fungus to the east of the Panama Canal. During a collecting trip in November 2009 to Chagres National Park, even further to the east, researchers were dismayed to find that most of the frogs there were already infected and dying. On May 20, researchers from the PARC project returned to what they hope are still fungus-free, healthy frog habitats in Darien Province. On an earlier trip organised by members of Eldredge Bermingham's lab at the Smithsonian, another new frog species was collected by researchers from STRI, the University of Panama and the Circulo Herpetologico de Panama. Its name is based on ADN, the acronym for the Spanish acido deoxiribonucleico, meaning deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, in English. 'We chose this name to underscore the usefulness of genetic techniques as we identify these new frog species and determine the relationships between tropical frogs that may look very similar,' said Andrew Crawford, professor at University of the Andes and research associate at STRI.

These two reports bring the total number of frog species described in Panama and Costa Rica to 197. Nearly 15 percent of these new frogs have been described in the past seven years.

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Mom Gets Drunk, Dog Bites Infant In The Genitals

Animals & PetsA newborn baby, only six weeks old, was bitten by a dog that caused serious injuries to its genitals. The child underwent surgery at the Hospital del Niño, while the mother remained under investigation, because she was apparently drunk at the time of the incident. According to the mother, the infant was bitten by a dog that had never shown itself to be aggressive, but quite the opposite she said the dog was very "playful." Authorities went to the child's residence in the Santa Cruz district of Curundú, however neighbors and family members of the newborn had killed the animal. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: I woke up this morning, turned on the news, and the first thing I heard was that "a dog had eaten a newborn baby's genitals." This is a horrendous story. Cases like this prevent me from being a judge. Could you imagine having to sentence this woman, the "mother" of this baby? She apparently got drunk, passed out, and left the baby alone with the dog. Good God...

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Colombian "Survivor" Show - Threatening Turtle Nesting Beach in Bocas

Animals & Pets By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I received the following via email: "Don, please post this to Panama Guide. Thank you. There is an environmental disaster in process on Bluff Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama. A company filming yet another "Survivor" episode (this one supposedly "Survivor Colombia") was secretly given "permission" by the mayor to build set structures right in the middle of turtle nesting grounds, right in the middle of turtle nesting season, which is right now. According to the Bocas Breeze, the mayor originally said he had not given any permission and had in fact sent the sheriff to fine the company, but later admitted that he had given them a permit and the money went to the Municipality. This may or may not be legal, since it is unlawful to build on a public beach in Panama without first obtaining a concession from the national government, but, legal or illegal, its an environmental disaster. No notice or opportunity to be heard was given to the community. It is not yet known whether anyone at ANAM or ARAP approved this. The crew building the "temporary" structures have told people approaching the beach that the beach is now "off limits" to members of the public. Public outrage is building among residents, tourists and the environmental community, who know that the last time "Survivor" filmed in Bocas, they left a moutnain of trash and destruction in their wake. Info and photos at: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-432402 Info can be obtained by phone from Allie Dennis at 6086 2331 or email info@discoverbocasdeltoro.com, she's with the Bocas Sustainable Tourism Association. Susan."

Getting Smarter About Turtles: I just spoke to Susan about this issue on the phone this morning. My first call is to a friend who knows a whole lot about turtles, their nesting habits, and whether or not human activity on that beach (of any kind) threatens their reproduction cycles. As soon as I asked about this issue, the first thing they said (instantly) was "those are Leatherbacks on Bluff." For example, in some cases the eggs are buried two feet deep in the sand, and while they are incubating there's almost no threat to the nests by people just walking on the beach, swimming, surfing, or doing just about any other kind of normal recreational activity. Now digging up the nest to eat the eggs, yeah, that would be bad. Another thing I learned - some turtles have regular cycles where they lay their eggs at a certain time during the year and they hatch at another time. However, other species of turtles basically drop eggs all year round. Anyway, I'm getting smarter about this whole thing, so I can bring the story to you. There are lots of angles to look at, but I suspect the people doing the filming have gotten all of the right permits and that they are "legal" at this point. You might not like it, but until I hear otherwise, I have to assume that they are just filming a television show. And, I watch television. I'm also not a knee-jerk tree hugger so I'm not going down that road either. Let's see how this whole thing pans out over time. The cool guys at the Bocas Breeze have point on this, and I'm going to follow their lead. This story is happening literally in their backyard.

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Thick-shelled turtle species discovered

Animals & PetsPANAMA CITY, Panama, April 13 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've discovered a new fossil turtle species in Colombia's Cerrejon coal mine. Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Balboa, Panama, and the Florida Museum of Natural History said the find helps explain the origin of one of the most biodiverse groups of turtles in South America. "Cerrejonemys wayuunaiki takes its genus name from Cerrejon, and emys -- Greek for turtle," the scientists said. About as thick as a standard dictionary, the turtle's shell may have warded off attacks by the Titanoboa, thought to have been the world's biggest snake, and by other crocodile-like creatures living in its neighborhood 60 million years ago, the scientists said.

"We are still trying to understand why six of this turtle's modern relatives live in the Amazon, Orinoco and Magdalena river basins of South America and one lives in Madagascar," said Edwin Cadena, first author of the study and a doctoral candidate at North Carolina State University. "It closes an important gap in the fossil record and supports the idea that the group originated near the tip of South America before the continent separated from India and Madagascar more than 90 million years ago." The discovery is reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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Four People Seriously Stung by Africanized Bees

Animals & PetsFour people, among them two children, were seriously stung by Africanized bees when a strong wind knocked down part of their nest. The bee's nest was in a mango tree, close to two houses located on Calle El Salinero in Aguadulce. Among those affected were 10 year old Wendy Morales, 13 year old Jorge Morales, 30 year old Emily Gonzalez, and 37 year old Tomas Escobar, who when they were surrounded by bees decided to spray themselves with "Baigon" insecticide, and as a result they ended up both stung and poisoned. In addition, the insects attacked several animals including two dogs that they killed and some chickens. Firemen transported the four victims to the Rafael Estevez hospital in Aguadulce, and they also removed the nest.

The firemen made some recommendations, such as: If you see a hive of Africanized bees do not throw stones at the nest, stay as far away as possible from them, and don't make any noise which can irritate them and result in serious attacks. Report the existence of the bees to the fire department. (La Critica)

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Residents Capture Crocodile - "Several Meters Long" - in Rio Grande

Animals & Pets A crocodile measuring several meters long, which had frightened the residents of El Espino, Cocle Province, was captured by a group of people when they discovered this reptile was the cause of the loss of their cows and dogs. Ranchers have been losing livestock from pastures located near the Rio Grande for the past several weeks. Residents at first thought it was the work of cattle rustlers, however the culprit turned out to be the reptile. This alarmed the community, because besides the loss of animals, residents in the area feared one of them might be next, because many people in the area use this river as a route to travel. The crocodile was captured on Thursday afternoon and the animal was taken to the community of El Espino where it eventually died from the injuries it received when being captured. It was learned there may be many more lizards in the river, and residents called upon ANAM to relocate them to more remote areas. (El Siglo)
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Bitten By A Fer-de-Lance In Cerro Azul...

Animals & Pets By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The following account was posted to the "Zonelink" Yahoo email group today;
  • My friend Karen was bitten a few days ago by a small fer-de-lance snake up by Cerro Azul. Here's what happened in her own words. (Maggie is their Collie dog).

  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • So, it all began with a ride in the Jeep down to the Romeo & Juliet falls. We wanted to show our friends from Seattle the best of what Cerro Azul has to offer. But, the dry season hasn't been quite so dry up in the hills, and we quickly discovered that the Jeep was sliding on the red clay, there being no traction, and the road only got steeper, sooooo, we abandoned the car and decided to walk in. We made it in only 25 mins or so, took some pictures, Steven had a swim and began our ascent out. I being the most out of shape, okay, fat, went first! As I crossed a small stream, I stepped on a flat paving rock, and felt the bite of the snake that I had tread on. He was small, about 12-14 inches, and totally camouflaged. Picture included. I saw that notorious diamond pattern, thought, "oh shit", told my 3 companions I had been bitten, told Steven to take a picture of it, and continued climbing out.

  • I knew it may hit me quickly, and was not sure a car could get down to me, so thought it best to get as far up the hill as I could. In all honesty, I thought it was a pseudo, as there was no pain or swelling. We all quickly headed up the hill, but, it was very steep and warm, and I wasn't doing too well. The boys abandoned me to get back to the car, leaving me with my girlfriend. I finally had to sit down, feeling winded and slightly nauseated. And then a car came. All the family jumped out, asked for the woman who had been bitten, I raised my hand, they turned the car around and gave us, including Maggie (not sure they wanted to bring Maggie with them, but, I wasn't leaving her in the jungle, with snakes!!) a ride up to our car. The boys had lowered the air pressure in the tires, and we zoomed out, sliding all over the place. Twice into the ditch, but Steven was determined to get me out of there, and we made it.

  • We went to see the resident vet, who said, yip, looks like a fer-de-Lance, get her down the hill to a hospital. Without stopping at the house to get our things, and just stopping for 30 secs. to leave Maggie with friends on the hill, we bolted down the road. The vet, or friends, had already called and the gate was open, police were waiting at the corner to escort us down the hill, and we made it to Paitilla Hospital in record time. Including a 60 second stop at the gas station to put air back into the tires, it was the best of Indy!!

  • Steven had called ahead, and 3 doctors plus the ER doc from the Darien, were waiting for us in the emergency room with the anti-venom. I did fine on the way down the hill, recovering from the hike up, the foot not swelling, bleeding or too painful. So I still wasn't too sure, but the folks in the ER took one look at the picture, and said "Yep". Then they drew my blood, and already my coagulation studies were like someone on a double-dose of coumadin!! Totally out of whack. I was immediately given a first dose of anti-venom, and then they waited, for side-effects. None. Nothing. So they proceeded to give me 9 more vials over the next 7 hours while transferring me to ICU to monitor. And then the foot began to swell, but not until that evening! I had double IV's going, heart, pulse-ox, and BP monitors and felt pretty darn well, and lucky, laying in ICU that night. Of course, you can't sleep there, but I was pretty much fine. But my blood work was amazing. As an ex-Medical Technologist, I was agog at my own labs. The hematologist seemed to enjoy telling me what my values were, as I understood.

  • The next day they transferred me to a private room, removing all the tubes and wires, and allowing my system to revert back to normal. My labs are now basically normal, although I used up half of my supply of platelets, and my hematocrit dropped within 12 hours from a high of 46% to a border-line anemic value of 29%. But I feel pretty darn good, considering, and have a hell of a story to tell. So I am home now, hopping around the condo on 1 leg, and using Sally's walker. I should be back to normal soon as the swelling goes down and I can bend my ankle. Steven fortunately has been here with me through all of this, a great help, but I had no idea how worried he was. When you go on-line and read up on the Fer-de-Lance, you find that it is one of the most poisonous pit vipers in the world. I had the gods on my side on Tuesday, and possibly a smaller snake than most, who only wanted me off of him, not for dinner! Thanks to all of you who helped, and to the rest of you for you kind thoughts and well wishes.

Wow. Thank God... These people did everything right. They took a photo of the snake to confirm the culprit (which determines the anti venom to use). The went straight to seek medical assistance. They used their cell phones to call ahead to alert the ER that they were on the way in. They moved as quickly as possible in a safe manner, without panicking. Anyway, fer-de-lance snakes are experts at camouflage, and we all should remember we don't have to travel very far to enter "their" territory. Be safe out there, folks...

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Tropical Birds Waited for Land Crossing Between North and South America, Study Finds

Animals & Pets ScienceDaily (Dec. 9, 2009) — Despite their ability to fly, tropical birds waited until the formation of the land bridge between North and South America to move northward, according to a University of British Columbia study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "While many North American birds simply flew across the marine barriers that once separated the continents, tropical birds, especially those in Amazon forest regions, began colonization of North America almost entirely after the completion of the land bridge," says lead author Jason Weir, who conducted the study as part of his PhD at UBC. "This study is the most extensive evidence to date that shows the land bridge playing a key role in the interchange of bird species between North and South America and the abundant biodiversity in the tropical regions," says Weir, now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago. The Isthmus of Panamaland bridge was completed between three and four million years ago, and today consists of the country of Panama. It is believed to have initiated the Great American Biotic Interchange, bringing mammals that evolved uniquely in South America during its "island isolation" -- the armadillo, opossum and porcupine -- to North America.

Fossil records have shown that mammalian species also travelled across the land bridge from North to South America, increasing biodiversity in the tropical regions. "But a lack of bird fossils has made it difficult to determine if the land bridge was equally instrumental in the interchange of avian species," says Weir. By analyzing the DNA of 457 bird species on either side of the land bridge, Weir and colleagues at UBC and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama were able to reconstruct a "family tree" of species closely related to one another and revealed a "hidden chapter" in the impact of the land bridge to biodiversity. They found a dramatic increase in the rates of interchange after the land bridge completion.

"This is a bit surprising," says co-author Dolph Schluter, UBC zoology professor and Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Biology. "Couldn't the birds have flown across the gap? Some did, but most tropical birds waited for the land crossing." The researchers believe the inability of many tropical birds to fly long distances across open water -- some are reluctant even to cross rivers as narrow as 200 metres -- may have contributed to the few north-bound movements prior to the land bridge completion.

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DNA Reveals Origins of Shark Fin Soup

Animals & Pets By LiveScience Staff - Every year, millions of shark fins are sold at Chinese markets to satisfy the demand for shark fin soup, a dish considered a delicacy, but it has been impossible to pinpoint which sharks from which regions are most threatened by this trade. Now DNA research has traced shark fins from the burgeoning Hong Kong market all the way back to the sharks' geographic origin. The scientists found that in some cases fins from scalloped hammerhead sharks came from endangered populations thousands of miles away. The findings highlight the need to better protect these sharks from international trade, the researchers say. About 73 million sharks are killed for this trade each year, of which 1-3 million are hammerheads, according to Ellen Pikitch a professor of marine science at Stony Brook University in New York. These sharks are particularly prized for their large fin size, and just 1 kg (2.2 lbs) can sell for about $120. "This trade has operated for years and years under the cover of darkness," Demian Chapman, a researcher at the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, said in a statement. "Our work shows that the scalloped hammerhead fin trade is sourced from all over the globe and so must be globally tracked and managed." (more)
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Strange Fish With Feet Caught in Panama

Animals & Pets La Critica - A strange fish with a nose, teeth and legs instead of fins surprised fishermen in Puerto Pedregal, in Panama's Chiriquí province. The fish was pulled from a depth of more than 150 meters (almost 500 feet) next to Isla Ladrones. Camilo Marciaga, who has the odd catch in a refrigerator, explained that he was fishing on a boat named the Yoselyn and when they pulled in their nets from the depths of the Pacific ocean they found a fish that none of them had ever seen before. Today they expect the arrival of some marine biologists who will come to examine the aquatic vertebrate. Another experienced fisherman said the fish might be a kind of shark.
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Panama Authorities Seize 6,889 Pounds of Shark Fins

Animals & Pets La Prensa PANAMA CITY, (Xinhua). -The government's Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP) today reported the seizure of 6,889 pounds of shark fins during a raid at the International Pier in Vacamonte on Panama's Pacific coast. The agency did not if any arrests were made during this raid, but they did say they opened a file that could lead to sanctions against the boat. The practice of cutting off a shark's fins and then throwing the rest of the carcass into the sea unused is known as "finning." The ARAP also said the practice of cutting off a shark's cartilage or "fins" is restricted in the country by a law protecting sharks, noting the legislation prohibits the practice of shark finning in Panamanian waters and establishes other provisions of protection for the species. The National Environmental Authority of Panama recently announced the initiation of a series of studies and plans for the preservation of endangered species in the country such as sea turtles, the harpy eagle, jaguar and amphibians.
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Panama "Alien" Really a Dead, Bloated Sloth

Animals & Pets By Sabrina Valle in Rio de Janeiro for National Geographic News - "I was in the river and I felt something grabbing my legs," one of the boys told the local television program Telemetro Reporta a few days after the sighting in the Cerro Azul region of Panama City. "We took it out of the water and started throwing rocks and sticks at it. We had never seen anything like that." After beating the creature until they thought it was dead, the teenagers threw it back into the water, returning later to snap photos of the body sprawled on a rock. Their pictures of the dead "alien" posted online quickly earned the creature the nickname "Panama ET." But an autopsy has now revealed that the purported alien was actually a species of sloth that had died and started to decay before the boys' discovery. "Most people know how a dead animal looks like in a dry environment," said André Sena Maia, a veterinarian at Niterói Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "The body must have got stuck under the water, and the movement of the currents gave [the boys] the false impression that it was alive."

Alien Looks Due to Watery Grave - Panamanian officials recovered the "alien" four days after the teenagers had thrown it back into the creek. A biopsy done at the National Environmental Authority of Panama (ANAM) concluded that the creature was a male Bradypus variegates, also known as a three-toed sloth, a common species in Central and South America. "The sloth had severe signs of trauma on its body, as shown in the necropsy," said Melquiades Ramos, a veterinarian at the ANAM Department of Protected Areas and Wild Lives. "From the state it is shown in the pictures, we can estimate it had been in the water for about two days before being found." The body's unearthly appearance is the normal state for a putrefying animal immersed in water, said Maia, of the Niterói Zoo. That's because water accelerates the loss of fur and gives the dead animal smooth and almost glowing skin, he said. In addition, bacteria decomposing the body created gases that made the organs swell, adding to the creature's extraordinary appearance. After identifying the body, ANAM staff buried the sloth.

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ANAM Inspects Circus Animals

Animals & Pets By Chris Yee for El Siglo - The animals are being well fed, they confirmed. Staff members from Panama's National Environmental Authority (ANAM) conducted a surprise inspection of the "Circo Renato, Rey de los Payasos" (Renato Circus, King of the Clowns), a Mexican company owned by the Fuentes Gasca brothers, which is currently located on Avenida Ricardo J. Alfaro, also known as the Tumba Muerto. While the two Asian elephants were chained by their legs, they are in good health, reports said. The circus also has five tigers, a goat, seven horses, a zebra, three llamas, three camels and two donkeys, all of which were found to be in perfect condition, according to Melquiades Ramos and José Antonio González, ANAM inspectors. At the time of the inspection the llamas were being fed and all of them had water in their containers. According to inspectors the only abnormality found was an injury one of the zebras had that was caused during travel, but the circus had applied a larvicide to prevent flies from contaminating the wound. The tigers, which were being held in wooden cages, are in good health, they added. In a report issued by the ANAM they noted the floor had sawdust and straw for moisture management, thereby facilitating the cleaning of animal stool and urine. The legal representatives of the company Fuentes Gasca, Emilio Moreno - on an international level - and Gladys Domínguez - in Panama - claimed to have all of their documents in order. The Renato Circus is one of thirty owned by the Fuentes Gasca Brothers in the world and they will be in Panama for three months. Later they will move to Costa Rica. This is the second generation of the Gasca brothers.
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Beagle Puppies For Sale

Animals & PetsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - My wife's friend has Beagle puppies for sale and I promised I would help spread the word. If you're interested call 391-9576 or 6437-1810.
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Rare harpy eagle hatches at Miami Metrozoo

Animals & Pets BY TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA for the Miami Herald - Meet the harpy eagle chick, the newest resident of Miami Metrozoo. The chick, which is yet to be named, was born Sept. 22, but because mortality rates are so high for baby eagles, the zoo had to wait 30 days before announcing its birth. "I've been sitting here for 30 days saying îPlease God let it live, please God let it live,''' said Metrozoo spokesman Ron Magill. Miami Metrozoo is only the second zoo in the United States to hatch a harpy eagle egg. The first was hatched in 1992 at the San Diego Zoo, which is where the chick's parents used to live before being loaned to Miami seven years ago. At first the two adult harpy eagles weren't exactly what you'd call lovebirds. "People think, îThey're a male and female, put them together and they're going to have babies,'' Magill said. "But that couldn't be further from the truth.'' Metrozoo zookeepers found private quarters for the two birds and kept their surroundings quiet, but the eagles spent six years together without producing any fertile eggs. The breakthrough came when the zoo opened a new exhibit and moved the birds to a more exposed section. Despite the heavy foot traffic and the hordes of human onlookers, the romance began to flourish. "It's like Club Med for eagles over there,'' Magill said. (more)
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Catching a killer one spore at a time

Animals & Pets Source - Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute - A workshop at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama has dramatically improved the ability of conservationists and regulatory agencies to monitor the spread of chytridiomycosis—one of the deadliest frog diseases on Earth. Caused by the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, this disease is probably responsible for the extinction of nearly 100 frog species since the 1970s. During the past decade, the epidemic swept from the highlands of Costa Rica through western Panama. It is now moving toward eastern Panama from Colombia. "The fungus spreads so rapidly because humans ship nearly 100 million amphibians around the world each year, mainly for food and pets, with virtually no disease testing," said Kerry Kriger, executive director of the U.S. non-profit, Save The Frogs! and course instructor with Sandra Victoria Flechas from Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. This hands-on course trained 22 scientists on the frontlines to use a genetic technique called quantitative polymerase chain reaction, PCR, which detects even single fungal spores. "We've probably just doubled the number of people in the world who know how to use this method to detect the pathogen," said Kriger. "The beauty of PCR is that you don't have to kill the frog or take a skin sample to test for the disease." (more)
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25th Spay/Neuter Clinic in Volcan

Animals & PetsSee http://www.spaypanama-chiriqui.org/25th.html. This was our final clinic for 2009. Thanks very much to all who participated and contributed, and to those who had their pets sterilized! We will have a short rest and begin anew in 2010! Dottie
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Rare Frog Species Bear the Brunt of Chytrid, a Deadly Fungal Disease

Animals & Pets By Carina Storrs for Scientific American - Threats to wildlife survival, such as habitat loss and climate change, tend to strike some species harder than others, and the threat of chytrid, a deadly amphibian fungus, appears to be no different. A study published in this month's Ecology Letters finds that rarer species were more likely to disappear, leading to loss of frog biodiversity in Central America. The study compares frog surveys taken at eight different sites in Costa Rica and Panama. Karen Lips, an associate professor of biology at the University of Maryland, College Park, along with Kevin Smith and Jonathan Chase at Washington University in St. Louis, found that the average number of frog species at the eight sites dropped from 45 to 23 after the appearance of the chytrid fungus. Rare species that were only present at one or a few of the sites were disproportionately wiped out, making up more than half of the species lost. "All species can get infected [but] the point is that not everything completely disappears," says Lips, who conducted the frog surveys that were used in the study. Although abundant species enjoy safety in numbers, factors other than abundance could help protect certain frogs after the deadly skin fungus hits their homes. Terrestrial species fared better than frogs living in wet habitats, where the fungus thrives. In addition, certain genes or differences in skin chemistry may allow some species to be less susceptible to chytrid, Lips says. Even with these advantages, frogs still die from chytrid, just at slower rates. Once the fungus arrives at a site, it remains in the soil and never really goes away. "I think, in time, species will continue to go extinct," she says.
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1,318 turtle eggs seized in Cambutal

Animals & Pets By Zenaida Vasquez in Los Santos for La Critica - Turtle eggs seized - 1,318 A turtle eggs were seized by the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), in the Playa Cambutal of Tonosí, in the province of Los Santos. The seizures came in two operations, in which three men were involved, who must now face criminal proceedings for environmental crimes. Domingo Espino, the Director of the ARAP in the province of Los Santos, explained that the 1,318 eggs had been removed from their nests for more than five days, which is why they were no longer viable and could not be returned.

Editor's Comment: All along Panama's beaches on both coasts there are sites and locations where sea turtles nest and lay their eggs every year. These are all protected under environmentalist laws, but there are always people who raid these nests for economic gain. I'm sure there's some culture in the world that things these eggs will make you smarter or taller or sexier or some other such damn thing - so they fetch a premium.

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Strange Creature Found in Panama is a Sloth

Animals & Pets By Paulo R. Poian - Inexplicata - The Journal of Hispanic Ufology - The animal was already dead and decomposing, and the story was concocted by teenagers. The case was debunked last week by members of Brazil's Equipo UFO. The story became widespread last Thursday, with a subject initially identified with Panama's location of Cerro Azul, involving the alleged death of a creature stoned to death by four adolescents near a lake. The unidentified creature was described as an alien, as if this classification offered an explanation. According to Panamanian papers, the youngsters were frightened by its appearance and fearful of being attacked, stoned it to death and then left it in a lake. The worst aspect of the story is that a so-called wildlife expert said that the case was under investigation and that the creature had very odd characteristics. Events of this type, which fall like parachutes (sic) into the hands of ufologists, have given rise to a new specific area of study in ufology, which will be very useful, employed and treasured: exozoology, that is to say, the study of supposedly alien animals. In this Cerro Azul incident, all that was needed was a comparison of images between the alleged ET and the fauna in the region in question. Observe the creature's mammaries, muzzle, and the arrangement and disposition of the legs. Yes , dear readers. It is a Preguiza (sloth), more commonly known as bicho preguiza, with a habitat that ranges from Central America to Brazil in six different species. It is a mammal and a member of the families Bradypodidae (three-fingered) and Megalonychidae (two-fingered). The absence of fur and the clearly distended abdomen show that the creature was in an advanced stage of putrefaction, which completely blows away not only the story -- concocted by the teenagers and swallowed whole by the media -- but any extraterrestrial hypothesis. At most, a second hypothesis would involve the possibility of a fetal Preguiza, but judging from the images circulated, it appears to be too large for a fetus, unless the images were retouched and enlarged to obtain the desired effect.
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Unidentifiable creature found in Panama

Animals & Pets CERRO AZUL, Panama (CANAL 4/CNN) - A strange find in the northern part of Panama city has startled the small community of Cerro Azul. Some say it's an alien and others say it's an animal. Last Saturday, four teenagers were playing around a creek when they spotted the unidentifiable creature. One of the teens told Canal 4 out of Panama that the creature came towards them. The teens got scared and started throwing rocks and sticks at it, killing it. They threw the creature into the water and ran away but later went back and took photos of it. Zoologists in Panama say they're not sure what it is, but it appears to be a dead animal fetus.
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Montauk Monster Kin Beaten to Death by Frantic Teens in Panama

Animals & PetsBy Carol Bengle Gilbert for associatedcontent.com - Mail Online reported Thursday the emergence of a creature similar in appearance to 2008's Montauk Monster from a cave in Cerro Azul, Panama. The Montauk Monster kin allegedly approached a group of teens who became frantic when it allegedly approached them by climbing over rocks. The teens threw stones at the Montauk Monster kin before beating the creature to death with sticks, then tossed its carcass onto rocks in a lake, later coming back to take photos. In the UK, some tabloids are referring to this Montauk Monster kin as Gollum and describing its appearance as humanoid. Panama's National Environment Authority is investigating the carcass, with one zoologist speculating that it may be a mutated sloth. A similar carcass found in Costa Rica in 1996 (before the term Montauk Monster was coined) was positively identified as a sloth. If this Montauk Monster kin is determined to be a mutated, hairless sloth, will the Montauk Monster story finally be laid to rest? Not if the slew of Chupacabra sightings is any indication. Chupacabra sightings have occurred repeatedly over the past few years in Texas, and despite the positive identification of at least one as Mexican wolf/coyote mix, people spotting nearly identical creatures cling to the myth of the chupacabra. Do the Chupacabra and the Montauk Monster fill some deep need within the human psyche? According to mythencyclopedia, monsters represent "everything that is fearful about the natural world and the darker corners of human nature." All monsters share two common features: not being human and hostility to humans. In mythology, the hero or heroine conquers the monster to prove his own worth.
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It's Not E.T., but Rather a Mutation

Animals & Pets By Luis Carlos Rodriguez and Zelideth Cortez for La Critica - The strange creature that caused alarm among the residents of Rancho Café, located along the road that leads to Cerro Azul, which at different times was thought to be either an extraterrestrial or even something like the greedy "Golum" character from the "Lord Of The Rings" is most likely to be some kind of an animal with a mutation. The creature was first spotted on Saturday by four kids who were swimming in the area of Charco Piña, was later found dead by residents of the area. The body of the animal was intact, but its head had been eaten by buzzards and marine animals. Zoologist Jacobo Arauz thinks the animal might be a sloth with a mutation or some other kind of animal with an abnormality. (Editor's Comment: Over the weekend this animal scared some kids who were playing by the stream - it was alive and they said it looked like an alien. The Melo's Chicken Farms are upstream, so who knows what's in that water. Anyway, that's one for the X-Files in Panama.)
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