Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eugene Eisenmann's living memorial

At the time of his death in 1981, the New York Times reported that Eugene Eisenmann was trained as a lawyer. He received his law degree from Harvard University in 1930 and was a partner in the New York City law firm of Proskauer Rose & Paskus until 1957, but he had a lifelong interest in bird studies. He became a leading ornithologist and a research associate in the department of ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History since 1957.  He was active in bird conservation and the author of the book ''The Species of Middle American Birds,'' a checklist of more than 1,400 species, and coauthor of ''The Species of Birds of South America.''

The FundaciĆ³n Avifauna Eugene Eisenmann was created in his memory, with the objective of conserving the 1000 species of birds that reside and pass through Panama.  They created the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center as an ecotourism and environmental education project.  The centers has forty meter observation tower, constructed from recycled materials, that permits you to view various levels of the forest, and also a nice set of trails to view things at ground level.  There is an incredible diversity of flora and fauna.

Eugene was a kind, gentle, and thoughtful man, whom I remember well from my childhood in New York City.  I think he would have been pleased with this living memorial in Panama.  Even though he never lived in the country, his family history was centered there, as were his avocational ornithological interests.  As he never married, it is well that there is this kind of legacy in his honor.

(Here's the geneological link:  Eugene was the son of Esther Maduro Brandon, daughter of my great-grandparents, David Henry Brandon and Judith Piza Maduro -- making him my first cousin, once removed.  You may recall David as being the founder of the volunteer fire department in Panama City around the turn of the century.  The postage stamp issued in his honor is to the right.)

But back to Eugene's memorial park -- see how these family connections suck you in when you visit your ancestral homeland! -- if you would like to see more images from the Rainforest Discovery Center, click on this link to my Facebook album.  In the meantime, enjoy the ants in this video below.

(If you cannot see the video click here.)

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