First of all, I want to apologize for hastily reposting a blog post which wasn’t really well researched and used dated photos of Manila Zoo. My love for animals made my heart cry out after seeing the disturbing photos. By reposting it, I helped create the stir that Manila Zoo has sunk so low which isn’t exactly the case after seeing it for myself this morning. My heartfelt apology to the Manila Zoo authorities and those directly affected by the commotion. However, I will not apologize to the other agencies who oversee the budget which goes to the zoo because it is very underfunded. Manila Zoo needs a lot of funding among other things. I hereby present what I found out from my trip this morning.
My friends Faith, Fritz and I met up with some zoo volunteers who shed some light on the efforts the staff and volunteers are doing to improve Manila Zoo from how it was years ago. They said that Manila Zoo has improved a lot compared to 6 years ago.
The volunteers told me that when PETA staged a protest outside the zoo last July 15, their noise agitated the animals and they weren’t any help anyway. I was told that they would rather kill the animals than see them inside the zoo. I find this information very disturbing since they claim they want what’s best for the animals.
We met Mali the elephant and even fed her fruits. She seemed happy enough and content. The zoo has a waterfall for her so she can drink and stay cool.
We also saw the ostriches and they looked kind of sickly. The volunteers explained that the feathers look like that because of their seasonal shedding (That’s the explanation but if that’s not really the case, please let me know). Also, the ostrich kept on pecking at the cage which was kind of disturbing.
There’s an overpopulation of turtles. Some were donated by those who didn’t want to keep them as pets anymore and the donated ones keep on breeding.
Some of the cages need fixing up, the ones for the monkeys in particular. According to the volunteers, the zoo is just waiting for the go signal (and funds) from the government to build the new cages. We saw a monkey go out from his cage and visit a neighbor but the volunteer reassured us that the monkey will go back to his cage.
The tigers looked content although there were a few skinny ones. According to the volunteer, the animals are well fed but since the visitors keep on throwing plastic and other trash inside the cages, some animals ingest them and they get sick and sometimes they never get back to good health or worse, they die.
There was an information booth but it wasn’t very informational.
We noticed that there weren’t many trash inside and outside the cages this time compared to when Nix de Pano went last July 14. It should also be noted that we didn’t get to see the horses (Nix posted photos of 2 skin and bones horses). Also, some of the enclosures are very small in my opinion.
Here are photos of the healthier animals.
Inside Manila Zoo is Kinder Zoo, a privately-owned zoo. The contrast from the main zoo is apparent as soon as we entered the section. It is very clean, well-tended and offers a more interactive approach. There are less animals but all were very healthy. This zoo also provides activities for the kids such as rock climbing, zip line, swimming, and petting the animals. However, those who want to go inside has to pay an extra P100 per adult and P50 per child.
As you can see from the above photos, Kinder Zoo is so much better than the main zoo. What I personally want to happen to Manila Zoo is for them to be something like Kinder Zoo. I believe it is best for them to have a private company as a partner who can provide funding for its improvement and maintenance. Improvements such as more cleaning crew and heads who can give a guided tour to visitors are very much needed. Since Manila Zoo doesn’t acquire animals anymore except the abandoned and donated ones, I think there are enough zoo keepers to handle the animals. It’s already almost impossible for the animals to be transported and have them adapt to a new surrounding so they have to remain where they currently are.
Manila Zoo will remain the same if they just rely on government funding. The government will always prioritize people over animals and nothing will ever change that. Since the government’s budget has been depleted by the previous administration, we can expect that allocations will go to poverty alleviation, education, infrastructure, and other aspects more basic to man. Arts and entertainment, and this includes government zoos, will hardly get a share of the budget. Getting Manila privatized or semi-privatized is what’s best if we want a better zoo. It might mean that the entrance fee will increase but the current fee of P40 can only cover a little of the zoo’s expenses. If the government will allow a semi-private Manila Zoo to be tax-free, the increase to the entrance fee should not be much.
The zoo needs reliable volunteers who are willing to help regularly. The current volunteers told me that they need people who will give guided tours, clean the enclosures and remind the stubborn public not to throw trash inside enclosures and not to tease the animals. My friends and I are going to volunteer from time to time and if you are interested to join, feel free to contact me.
I hope this report somehow gave the people of Manila Zoo a voice but it is still best if you go there personally so you can judge for yourself.
Fritz insisted that I add the artistic photos he took.
Please also take the time to read Faith’s post about our visit.