Friday 9th September 2011

Guatemala City

We are still in the capital city, being most kindly looked after by our hosts Richard and Guisela, and daughter Julie, and Jacqueline’s time in Guatemala is rapidly drawing to a close. Apart from a short trip up to a mirador offering panoramic views over the city, we have not made any major excursions. Yesterday we ventured to the Museo de Historia Natural in the vague hope of finding some specimens obtained by my great grandfather George Charles Champion. I know that someone from the Royal Entomological Society in London visited in the 1980s, and did find a substantial insect collection, including some GCC specimens, but this person found the collections in a very poor state…..there was even talk of the RES sending out a small team to help restore them, but this never happened.

We visited the director of the museum, who was fascinated to hear of our story, but sadly he could not help us much. Apparently after the founder of the museum, Dr Jorge A Ibarra, died, the family retained ownership and custody of the insect and bird collections, and in the following years they disappeared. An export permit was apparently applied for but not granted some years ago, but there the trail goes cold. Anyhow, even if the collections did remain in Guatemala, the specimens are probably so badly deteriorated as to be beyond repair. A sad story indeed, and in some ways a national shame.

Today we headed for the Parque Zoologico La Aurora, a pleasantly laid out zoo near the international airport with a fairly well housed collection of both native and exotic animals. Apart from those in the cages, we did manage to observe a few butterfly and bird species in liberty in the park grounds.

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