Manila Zoo in the Philippines
Manila is a huge city with a population numbering somewhere in the region of 20 Million people. Nearly all of these are familiar with Manila Zoo which, as reputedly the oldest* zoo in Asia, opened its doors in 1959 on a 5 hectare site. Most Manilans will have visited at least once in their life.
*(It was not the first zoo in Manila. The 'Monkey Zoo' was in operation in the 1920s but this has long since closed.)
Entrance to Manila Zoo
Cheap at the Price
Sadly the Manila Zoo is not a good zoo. It scrapes by doing the very minimum to keep its critics quiet and seems to have an overinflated opinion of its own expertise. This was amply demonstrated by its refusal to send any staff to the Philippine Keeper Training Workshops.
This sort of 'know it all' attitude is very old fashioned and is detrimental to the well being of the animals and progress of the collection. All too sadly such ways of thinking are not unique to Manila.
Dyed Chicks and Birds for sale outside the Zoo Gates
Again, as a major city zoo one would expect them to be a member of SEAZA and cooperating with other zoos in Asia but there is no evidence to support this.
Religious Shrine in Zoo
Luzon Cloud Rat
I would not go quite as far as to say that the zoo should be closed because I don't believe it should. It is a popular collection with a relatively cheap entrance charge. Instead of closure it should be making steps to improve and fulfil the role of the modern zoo. It needs to re-invent itself. At the moment it is not doing that.
The Infamous Orangutan Cage
One of many 'Wishing' ponds
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Far from moving forward the Manila Zoo appears to be moving backwards. On my latest visit during March 2009 the main exhibit was a man. A very BIG man. Thie biggest man I have ever seen. In the Philippines where a large percentage of the population hovers around 5' he was truly Gigantic. But this is not Montezuma's Zoo at the time of the Spanish Conquest of South America...this is modern day Philippines!
I have visited Manila Zoo several times over the past few years looking in vain for some type of progress. My first visit followed a typhoon which had blown in the week before. The place was devastated with many cages and enclosures damaged and several very large trees blown over.
The Red Eared Terrapins are popular
Next visit they were actually spending a bit of money and it looked like the new enclosures might actually be quite nice.
One of my later visits followed on from an article in one of the local Manila newspapers. "Manila zoo orders therapy for stressed-out animals" They were talking of the importance of enrichment. True enough, when I went to the zoo there were a few little bits of rope hanging up that were not their previously.
This latest visit showed that all evidence of previous 'enrichment' had gone. It was all just a story to get publicity or perhaps, just perhaps someone had read an article. This visit there was no supervision of visitors at all and wiley photographers were sneaking around offering the chance to take your photo with anything for a fee. Manila following the 'lead' of Cairo Zoo? Today the most attention being given to enclosures appears to be putting up little signs on bits of water saying "wishing croc" or "wishing pond".
Manila zoo has nothing to be proud of. There are a couple of halfway decent aviaries but there are very many extremely bad ones. Manila Zoo has much to be ashamed of and has one of the worst Orangutan enclosures in Asia. I say 'one of' because there are worse to be found in Indonesia...including the off show exhibits in Ranugan Zoo.
Presently (March 2009) the zoo is getting flak from PETA and other animal rights groups which have issued the statement:
"Animals belong with their families and communities in the wild, where they can run free, roam across long distances, and live as nature intended," the petition read. "Animals in zoos are confined to tiny enclosures, where they suffer from acute boredom and stress."
Whereas I do believe the zoo is in urgent need of change I believe the statement is dripping with sentimentality and lack of real understanding of animals. I cannot abide such ignorant and insane statements and others such as:
"The petition reiterated that animals are always better off when left in the wild instead of being confined to zoos."
Elephant at Manila Zoo
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