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And, indeed, the very word “eco tourism” brings different images to mind in different individuals. For some DeMarco Murray Jersey , Costa Rica eco tourism brings to mind experiencing the country’s amazing biological variety. Hence, it’s appropriate to label the kinds of ecotourists traveling this country. About the size of little West Virginia, comprising about 110,000 of the globe’s land surface, nearly 5% of all the world’s species of plants and animals on earth are found in Costa Rica. And, the truth is that ecotourism plays an increasingly important role in Costa Rica’s vision of sustainable development. There are more kinds of butterflies in tiny Costa Rica than on the whole continent of Africa. And, nearly as many types of birds have been observed in its forests and lands as in the continental U.S Delanie Walker Jersey , about 1000. The earth’s largest Green Sea Turtle preserve is off the Caribbean Coast at Tortuguero National Park. Sometimes more than 30,000 turtles come ashore to nest on the deserted beaches, along with other species of endangered marine turtles. Once they were so common plentiful that sailors, lost in the fog, could find land by listening to the sounds of thousands of turtle flippers coursing their way towards nesting beaches. Distressingly, sea turtles, the oldest of reptiles DaQuan Jones Jersey , dating back some hundred million years, are now endangered around the globe. Tortuguero is now the largest green sea turtle preserve on earth and its surrounding lands and waters are replete with wildlife. More than a third of the world’s species of cetaceans (whales and porpoises) can be seen in its offshore waters—-and humpback whales from Antarctica travel north to Costa Rica while humpback whales from the Arctic travel south to the same waters. Wild Corcovado National Park, just 20 miles long and 8 miles wide, has been referred to as “the most biologically intense place” on earth by National Geographic. Folks who visit Costa Rica for any of these things are best referred to as “vacation eco tourists.” But, of course, eco tourism in this tropical land is more diverse than bird watching, taking a photography tour DaNorris Searcy Jersey , or hiking jungle trails to lovely waterfalls-which brings this author to an internationally recognized but little known and relatively little visited place called the Tirimbina Rainforest Center. The Tirimbina Rainforest Center sits on about 850 acres (345 hectares) of primary rainforest. “Primary rainforest” is the original, never logged, jungle that blanketed virtually all of Central America when Christopher Columbus visited its Caribbean shoreline and discovered (and named) Costa Rica in 1503. Over the following centuries, extensive logging and burning to make more agricultural areas decimated primary forests and only vestiges of this valuable resource remain. The Center’s history goes back to 1960 when an American, Robert Hunter, traveled to Costa Rica to work for the Inter-American Institute for Science and Agriculture and bought the land now occupied by the Center. He invited American experts to the property, one of whom was Dr. Allen Young of the Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Public Museum Curley Culp Jersey , and an internationally identified expert on cacao cultivation and rain forests. Dr. Young, and others like him who’ve visited the Center over the last decades, are “research eco tourists.” Their professional curiosity and research on rain forests have proved invaluable to understanding the ecosystems of tropical climes. Tirimbina proved fascinating not merely to Dr. Young but to the Milwaukee Public Museum itself which, in 1986, designed a permanent display on the tropical rainforest, called “Exploring Life on Earth.” Over the following decades hundreds of thousands of people have viewed the Tirimbina exhibit as “virtual eco tourists” whose growing knowledge the importance—and fragility-of rain forests have contributed to preservation efforts. Indeed, the Museum eventually bought the Tirimbina Rainforest Center and managed it until 2006 when it was sold to a Milwaukee nonprofit called the Pura Vida Foundation. More recently Craig Stevens Jersey , the Center was transferred to a Costa Rica nonprofit organization, the Asociacion Tirimbina Para La Conservacion, Investigacion y Educacion. If you are an eco tourist or considering real-deal Costa Rica ecotourism, we recommend visiting the Tirimbina Rainforest Center if you are: (a) A “research eco tourist.” This is a working rain forest research center and for 30 years has been used for doctorate research, graduate studies, and museum related work; (b) A college student looking for a one-of-a kind study abroad opportunity. Ball State University of Indianapolis recently announced a new Study Abroad in Costa Rica program at Tirimbina Rainforest Center, starting Spring Semester 2010. This program is modeled after two very popular study abroad programs in London and Australia. If