Zoobic Safari, 'The Only Tiger Safari in the Philippines' is located within the Ilanin Forest at the side of the beautiful Subic Bay. The 'Zoobic' name is a play upon the location. This collection is owned by the Residence Inn group who own the Residence Inn Mini Zoo and Paradizoo.
This is a wonderful location for a zoo but sadly there are so many missed opportunities and it is extremely doubtful whether there is any involvement in any conservation programme. There is education in the form of guided tours and the staff have participated in Zoo Keeper training courses unlike the staff at Manila Zoo.
The zoo first opened its doors in 2004 and has increased in popularity ever since. It is a purely commercial venture with little interest in anything other than dollars through the door.
This is one of a series of zoo reports that was actually included within my travel journal ‘The Itinerant ZooKeeper’. Initially I started to extract the zoo data but found the reading was diminished by it. So look on it as a zoo travelogue. The only major edits I have done is a little censoring and to remove the Casanova exploits.
Map of Zoobic Safari
Monday 29th January 2007
This morning started out overcast and cool. Gloria and I took a walk along the beach before breakfast. Shoals of small fish leaped from the water to escape a bigger pursuer. A large group of Crab Eating Macaques were looking for opportunities to steal a meal.
Gail arranged for us to have a 'Whale & Dolphin Experience' (Ocean Adventure)this morning. If I had been alone I would have passed it by. I have ridden a killer whale and swam with dolphins wild and captive before and know I have been lucky to do so. It was a memorable and interesting experience. Definitely not 'magical' though and I really fail to see how it allows some people seem to achieve union with their soul. Today was not however something to be passed up lightly though especially as I knew what a kick Gloria would get out of it. She had not stopped talking about her Sealion 'experience' yesterday when she posed with and was kissed by one of the animals (thanks Bianca).
I actually really enjoyed my 'dip' and have never ridden the belly of a false killer whale before nor spun with one. Yes it was worth it. I think the 'ambassador' roles these animals play are so very important when done well.. and it is done so very well here. This was a world away from the horrible 'people drags' I saw the dolphins doing in Antalya in Turkey.
Visayan Warty Pig
Mid afternoon we took a pre arranged trip out to 'Zoobic Safari' http://www.zoobic.com.ph/ . What a contrast to 'Ocean Adventure'. I suppose the first shock was the cost to get in. Here it is was pricey at 395 pesos. This is far more than the average Filipino could afford and for those with a family it would be right out of the question. Then we had to wait fifteen minutes. There was no free ranging here, it was all guided. A plus I thought but, no. This was all a deliberate ploy because the waiting area doubled up as the 'get your photo taken with a tiger' area which several Korean tourists were taking advantage of. There were perhaps eight tigers in this area ranging from adults down to cubs of a few weeks...and the inevitable piglets too. What was of greatest interest to me was the Puma. It was huge! I really haven't seen one as big anywhere.
The girl who took us round knew her stuff. She was an encyclopaedia of information and interesting facts. Sadly a goodly portion of it was rubbish but then she believed it and I wasn't going to embarrass her by correcting her. She was wasted on this place though. In the right zoo she would go far. The zoo part was a hotch potch of little rubbishy enclosures. The Palm Civet set up was bigger and better than many I have seen but still a long way short of being even halfway adequate. The whole zoo looked like it had been put together by a couple of ten year olds the day before.
Short and sweet we exited the 'zoo' to enter the reptile house. This was housed in one of the old US bunkers which litter this corner of Subic. Nothing special here either. The tanks were clean and with basic labels. I can't think of anything good to say about it. From here we climbed into a small vehicle where we were asked if we would like to purchase a chicken to feed the tigers. We, and the other three occupants declined. We were then driven round and into the Tiger safari. How do they keep them in? (9' fence, some with a couple of strands of barbed wire on the top, some without, no overhang) It is anybody's guess. I reckon it must just be a matter of time before there is an escape if it hasn't happened already. The fence was far too low, there was no overhang and, though I am unsure without close inspection, looked to be in a state if deterioration. We saw, and were stalked by several animals and saw seven or so others locked in holding cages at the bottom of a slope. I was not happy with this set
up at all. It is dangerous.
Zoobic Safari is promoting itself (aided and abetted by the Philippine Tourist Board) as a must see tourist destination. With the major road improvements from Clark airport this whole area is in for big changes.
As it stands Zoobic Safari is a mess.
Tiger in Zoobic Safari
It needs a complete revision of practice, procedure and housing before it becomes even halfway respectable. Sadly it would seem that this is a 'money talks' set up. If only the money would talk sense. Why doesn't it? Why can't it? Due to time constraints we did not get to see the 200 freshwater crocodiles which had recently arrived from Palawan. I learnt later that this move had been carried out without sanction. Another case of money talking.
'Rodent World' was closed temporarily for repairs. The Luzon Warty Pig was nice...if that is what it was.
Back at the Camayan Beach Resort we caught up with Tim later in the day for a chat. I had not asked Tim his surname up to now...it turned out he was Tim Desmond who I knew then immediately from articles he had written and by reputation. I was delighted to have met him in the flesh.
Zoobic Safari Adventure Tour
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