Summit Municipal Park Wildlife Refuge, Panama

The Summit Municipal Park is a wildlife refuge found inside Soberania National Park in Panama. It was originally founded in 1923 as an experimental botanical garden owned by the United States. Starting in the 1960s, animals started to arrive at the park from the authorities, people who owned them as illegal pets, and people who found them hurt or disturbed from habitat destruction.

All of the animals in the park are rescue animals. In the last four years, this refuge has received 850 animals and was able to successfully release 815 animals back into the wild. All of the animals that could not be released are given the best possible care at the refuge by some truly incredible people. The caretakers at the refuge volunteer their time 7 days a week (without any pay) just to ensure the animals receive the best care possible. One of the caretakers and board members, Elena, explained that while they do not receive any monetary pay, they are rewarded with the personal growth that comes from helping save these incredible animals.

Eduardo Estrada is a wildlife photographer in Panama, specializing mainly in closeups with cats rescued and housed at the refuge. “In my very specific case I have been a professional photographer for over 10 years with about three years dedicated to wildlife in general, but mainly focused on rescue cases we receive, products of seizures made ​​by the authorities from traffickers of wildlife or abuse cases , car accidents, etc.”

Eduardo says “felines stole my heart and get my greatest attention. I have worked with Jaguars, Pumas, Margay, Ocelot and Yaguarundi. I try to find approaches in my photographs, hoping that those who see the pictures get a glimpse at their souls.”

“The model in the picture is Cash, brother of Tango who are two Pumas rescued in Bocas del Toro (Panama) born a week before becoming trafficked wildlife. It is presumed that the mother was killed so the traffickers could catch them. Now they are living in the Summit Municipal Park, condemned to a life in captivity by the action of the traffickers. Elena Castejón, feline expert and Secretary of the Board of Summit Park, and Lynn Hawksworth feline expert and member of the Board of Summit Park have been his caregivers and and I am of course your photographer. I think this is a sad privilege to me.”

Panama puma Cash

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