Just seven weeks after opening, the Panama resort at Isla Palenque finds itself the host of an unexpected guest: a Tyrannosaurus rex.
Towering at half the height of a hundred-year-old ceibo tree, the tyrannosaurid was discovered by Isla Palenque’s Director of Tours & Activities, Aristoteles Almengor, who heard its roars echoing through the jungle over those of the island’s howler monkeys.
“I followed the sound to Laguna Negra, all the birds and monkeys heading in the other direction – “ says Almengor, “ – then I saw the dinosaur standing over something on the edge of the water. It was eating something but I don’t know what.”
Almengor immediately called The Resort at Isla Palenque’s Founder, Ben Loomis, who organized an informal expedition with the resort’s local tour guides. After consulting an authoritative text, the group was able to verify that the creature inhabiting Isla Palenque’s Laguna Negra was in fact a T-rex, despite the chronological and geographical improbability of its being there.
“We’ve been describing the island’s lagoons as ‘primeval’ for years – it just got a lot more real for us,” says Loomis.
Tyrannosaurus rex was previously thought to have inhabited western North America; no fossils have been excavated outside this region to date. While a puzzling discovery, Isla Palenque’s resident T-rex does not actually disrupt the fossil record as it is very much alive (and roaring).
Renowned paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant has been summoned to the island to study the giant lizard in an attempt to ascertain how it came to live on Isla Palenque, a wild island in Panama’s Gulf of Chiriqui. Until his arrival, however, The Resort at Isla Palenque has set the tour guides to work breaking in the prehistoric beast, in the hopes of providing sunset dinosaur rides on the beach as part of the resort’s extensive menu of wilderness tours.
“The dinosaur rides are going to be really special,” says Almengor, who recently stepped down from his three years’ spearheading Palenque’s “monkey butler training program” due to a breakdown in discussions with the monkeys’ union. “There’s no other place like Isla Palenque in the world, now not just because of its biodiversity and its various ecosystems, but because we are the only place in the world with a real live dinosaur. It’s pretty cool.”
When questioned as to why he did not determine to have the creature removed from the island, Loomis responded:
“We’ve never had sufficient reason to remove any of our native wildlife from the island, except in the case of a baby monkey that fell out of a tree and needed attention from animal rescue professionals. We did not want to treat this case differently just because it involved a prehistoric creature.”
The resort has, however, undertaken certain precautions to contain the T-rex to the lagoon where it was first discovered and all tours passing through this area have been temporarily re-routed to avoid placing guests in harm’s way.