Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Revisiting Childhood in Manila Zoo

* a Manila Zoo signboard

* Mali, the resilient elephant

* the Reptile House

* a closer look at a snake

* a coiled snake; I’m not so sure if this is a reticulated python

* sailfin water lizards

* the friendly ostrich

On July 25, 1959, the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden opened its doors to the public. It serves as one of the educational centers in the country where the viewing public can observe, discover and learn interesting facts about the beauty of Philippine fauna and flora.

Manila Zoo has a land area of 5.5 hectares and has a current population of about 500 animals. There are 106 species, among which are 30 different kinds of mammals, 63 reptile species and 13 types of birds. In addition to popular zoo occupants such as elephant, tigers lions and the hippos, Manila Zoo also houses several endemic and indigenous species of animals like the bearcat, long-talied macaques and crocodiles.

- text from MyZoo Volunteer Group

The 52-year-old Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden certainly is alive and kicking. No amount of Manila heat or volume of dust impedes the visitors to flock to the place and get a feel of nature in this 5.5-hectare space in Manila.

* Philippine deer, commonly known as pilandok

* croc! – Philippine crocodile

* monkey; a hole was deliberately made on its cage in order for visitors to feed them food

* Bengal tiger’s den

* “Off limits” – visitors better take heed of this warning as this is the rear part of the cages of the tigers; this is where the keepers of the tigers enter to feed the hungry cats

* a white-breasted sea eagle; I first saw this eagle near World Trade Center Manila

* Abeforth Dumbledore’s patronus – a goat!

Doing this revisit was like being a child again: seeing the same elephant (named Mali) near the entrance and hearing the same intermingling noises of the children and the animals. There were however a few disappointing observations. One is the apparent tolerance regarding the cleanliness of the cages. Some were quite smelly and deters closer approach by potential visitors. Another thing was the stationary and ambulant vendors inside the zoo. I understand their plight and motivations for selling food and snacks, but I think they are quite an eyesore. I don’t know if they are sanctioned by the administrators of the zoo but this aspect, I think, should be given proper actions. Manila Zoo may be one of the oldest zoos in Asia but we don’t want to live up to the connotations of being old – deteriorating, etc. – do we?

But in general Manila Zoo is a good place to visit for your children to explore and learn more about the animal and plant world. Other amenities of the place include boat rides in the lagoon, photo ops with some animals, food shops, souvenir shops, to name a few.

Manila is located at Adriatico Street, Malate, Manila.

[How to go to Manila Zoo: The Gil Puyat LRT Station would be a good reference point. From that place, one can board a jeep, or alternatively a LRT, and drop off at Quirino Ave (or Quirino Ave. LRT Station). From there, you can turn left and walk towards Adriatico Street or hail a pedicab that would take you to Manila Zoo.]

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