July 26, 2011

Manila Zoo Revisited

Since there was news that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wanted to shut down the Manila Zoo, I wanted to share my experiences at Manila Zoo during my last visits.

I've been to Manila Zoo in 2008 and 2010 since I graduated in High School, well I've been into Manila Zoo for at least 5 times in my life I could remember going there when I was a kid, a teenager and as a college student.

But first, what is Manila Zoo and how important is it in our country?

Manila Zoo opened its doors July 25, 1959. Yes that was yesterday they celebrated their 52nd year and as the first and oldest zoo in ASIA. Its full name is The Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, it remains to be one of the most visited zoos in the country, mainly attracting public school field trips and tourists accommodating almost 2 million visitors annually.

Being the first and oldest, its location is in the heart of Manila, 5.5 hectares with 800 animals from nearly 100 species as of 2007. It also houses some confiscated, injured and donated animals and so the Zoo is safe to be called a Rescue Center.

When I visited here in 2008 with my friends, I was a freshman college and let's admit that if you're from Manila or anywhere within an hour's reach from Manila and you're in college, you wouldn't go to this old Zoo. But my Love for animals is different from the others, I love nature more than big malls and man-made structures, although Manila Zoo is a man-made home for the animals, the animals are part of nature that no human can create even in cloning, are you getting me?

In 2008 Manila Zoo was dead, I mean it really looked dead to me. I was excited to see Mali, the elephant I saw when I was little, used to be really really big and healthy but when I went inside together with my friends we all wondered if it was still Mali we were looking at because the elephant was thin, and I meant thin in elephant terms.

This is Mali in 2008, the elephant from Sri Lanka. 
Manila Zoo was dull in 2008, it was like the worst year for the animals, although I saw that most of the animals were taken care of, judging by how they should look like and their sizes, it was still good. The problem was the surroundings and the trash being thrown inside the cages and around the zoo. And there were people smoking inside too! Isn't a zoo a total non-smoking area?

Other animals around the zoo in 2008


In 2010, a dear friend of mine expressed her longing to visit Manila Zoo because she hadn't been there once in her life. Me and her being a travel enthusiasts since we met in college share the same drive to see new places. Old places become new when you look at it on a different perspective you know.

So we planned and invited a lot of our classmates and friends and our revisit to Manila Zoo was almost perfect when on the day we were supposed to go, it was just me and my friend Melissa who were available that day, that only showed how much we really love to travel.

It was the May 6, 2010 as I could recall because the summer heat was just killing me but the mature trees in the Zoo helped regulate the heat. As we entered the zoo I saw Mali the elephant again and this time he really appeared healthy and he even welcomed us by showing us to his new space where he can take a shower and dip in the water.

Mali and his new play spot, he appeared a lot happier and healthier in 2010 than 2008
The new space was good although it was entirely concrete, I wish there'd be grass and a tree for him to rest under it. Maybe a companion elephant is better but I don't know if that's possible with the entrance fee of the zoo which is less than $1 could cover these things.

Iguana at the Reptile gallery.
We wandered around seeing Mali first and the n some snakes in the reptile area and that day it wasn't filled with visitors because it was a weekday but there were some and some people are just rude because they were smoking around and the personnel of the zoo happen to be tolerating it.

Turtle just "hanging around".
There were new animals that I saw and some old timers like Mali and I must say I Love how Manila Zoo is trying to make the place beautiful with the meager funding they are getting from the Government but they really have to focus on the cages, especially the cages of the Monkeys because it is depressing I can see in the eyes of the animals that they feel alone. It's suffocating them, the small spaces and dirty surroundings.

We took lunch inside the zoo and noticed that the place was even more dirtier because the shops aren't looking after their customer's trash, they didn't have enough trash bins. It's almost like it's also people from the inside who do not care about the Zoo, they're just there to make business.

Outside the zoo where the "Kinder Zoo" was, although fewer animals are around, they were a lot more better in shape than inside the main zoo. I heard it was a private company who was keeping it.

The kinder zoo provided visitors to touch the animals and ride on it and pet them. In 2010 there were still closed cages because the animals weren't there yet.

Here are some of the photos we did inside the pet zoo:

The Kinder Zoo, well we don't look like we're in Kinder.
Overall the 2010 visit was way better than 2008 and I hope well I get a chance to visit this 2011 I could compare it again because we don't know if Manila Zoo is developing slowly or not but as far as my visit, it is developing but in a slow pace.

Zoos are important because it is a way to keep the children and elders informed of what the animals need, thus, I think Manila Zoo has to show it.

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