Safarick’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Zoo in Colon
Located in the Maria Chiquita area, on the Caribbean side of Panama, Safarick’s Zoologic is an animal rescue and rehabilitation center founded by Antonio Purificacao, a real estate developer from Montreal, with a love for animals.Most of the animals kept at the zoo are brought in by ANAM, Panama’s wildlife protection agency. Many arrive sick and unhealthy. Some come from seizures, others are found injured and /or deforested. “In most cases we strive to return the animal to the wild, but in cases where an animal has been rescued from life with humans, we have to keep it and care for it, as it cannot survive on its own”, says Antonio.Antonio and his family started rescuing wildlife four years ago when they arrived in Panama. The very first animal they saved was a baby Howler Monkey that had been rescued from poachers. The wildlife population under the Purificacao care increased from there; today the Zoo has 109 animals that are being rehabilitated and cared for. While the family has been saving animals for several years, the Safarick Zoologic facility only opened its doors this year in October.
“Our facility serves several purposes beyond the rehabilitation of animals”, says Antonio. “We are also helping bring tourism to the Maria Chiquita area and the Caribbean side of Panama, and we are helping educate school children about the Panama environment”.
Visitors arriving at the zoo are guided through the facility by a tour guide. “We do this because we want visitors to learn more about the animals. Also, we don’t want people running around, for the sake of animal and human safety”. University students studying eco-tourism serve as tour guides to visitors. "We have several students who work different shifts, including my son”, says Antonio.
The zoo houses 20 large and spacious enclosures for primates, like monkeys, as well as leopards and capybaras. Birds fly freely in a 100+ foot walk-through aviary that features a waterfall and a koi pond. There is also a butterfly enclosure with a built in botanical garden, where you can learn about the lifecycle of the butterfly.
Actually, the rehabilitation efforts of Safaricks Zoo extend further than the animals to the very land the zoo sits on. “When I first purchased the land, there was not a single tree on it. We planted 6800 trees, shrubs and flowers”, says Antonio.
Taking care of the large number of animals is a huge job. The Zoo has a solid team behind animal care. The in-house vet is Mr. Jose Torres, who is President of the Veterinarian Association of Panama. Advising on matters of animal handling, diet and life enrichment is Mrs. Halit Khoshen, who started the Go Wild foundation with Jane Godall. Bringing even more experience in the field of captive primates is Mrs. Diorene Smith, who specializes in exotic animals and is the veterinarian currently at the summit zoo.
The Zoo offers different tour packages, including a shuttle to Bala Beach Resort where you can enjoy the day at blue Caribbean waters. There are change facilities on site and food at the AKU Restaurant Bar. At the end of your day, a shuttle is available to take you back to your car.
Safaricks Zoologic is open every day from 9am to 4pm. To get there; take Corredor Norte which turns into the new Panama-Colon Autopista. Continue north towards Colon. Exit at the Sabanitas off ramp. Immediately after the McDonalds, turn right at the “Rey” supermarket in Sabanitas to continue towards Maria Chiquita. To contact the zoo: call +507 435-6900 or email SafaricksZoo@hotmail.com. To learn more, visit the zoo’s website at www.safarickszoo.com.