The Nispero Zoo never planned to be a zoo, it just happened. The owner, an agronomist who runs a small for-profit nursery here, had a large collection of animals and birds, and over time so many people donated abandoned or sick animals that it just made sense to open a zoo. The 2.8-hectare (7-acre) El Nispero sits at the foot of Cerro Gaital National Monument. There are 55 species of birds, both exotic imports from Asia and Africa such as golden pheasants and white peacocks, as well as a few tropical species not seen in any zoo outside Panama. A good representation of endemic animals includes a white-faced capuchin and spider monkey, an ocelot and trigillo margay, and a couple of tapirs rescued from Manuel Noriega's home after the invasion. Note that there are no protective railings between you and the cages, and children (and adults!) should be careful not to stick their hands through the chain-link fence that guards the animals. El Nispero's bucolic property has shade trees and a botanical garden that offer quiet spots for reading a book or just reflecting on nature.

El Nispero is also home to the brand-new Centro de Conservación de Anfibios de El Valle (EVACC), an amphibian study center sponsored by the Houston, San Antonio, and San Diego zoos. The center will study the bacteria that is wiping out the golden frog, among other amphibians, and work to ensure the amphibians' survival. The center has aquariums, exhibits, and a video and reading center in English and Spanish.