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Loboc River Tarsier Project

Updated on December 10, 2009

February 2007

The Loboc River Tarsier Tarsius syrichta Project is located at the edge of a river on the island of Bohol in the Philippines. It is a fancy name for a purely commercial and exploitative venture which hides behind the world 'Project' as if it will give some sort of scientific backing.

Within the Philippines it is actually illegal to keep Tarsiers unless for education, scientific or conservation based research. The Loboc River Tarsier Project does none of those things. Without a shadow of a doubt this is one of the most stressful, cruel exhibits that I have ever come across ignoring as it does the basic biology of these delightful little creatures.

How this collection can be allowed to continue in operation can only be because of corruption.

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.

An Awful Place for Tarsiers

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We stopped by the Loboc river on our return journey. It turned out that this was the base of another 'Tarsier Project?'. An unscrupulous, money grabbing and exploitative endeavour. When I spotted the dirty little cage I was determined not to go in. From the outside I could see numerous people within touching the animals and taking flash photographs just inches away from the light sensitive eyes of these little nocturnal beasts. There was no way I was going to pay to support something I so strongly disagreed with. As it turned out entry was by prompted donation so I ignored the prompt and I did not donate.

Within this tiny walk-thru there were around a dozen Tarsier. This is far too many for such an area considering their territorial behaviour. What's more they couldn't get away from the numerous visitors either. If the unfortunate little beasts had had the thought they could have escaped though because of the branches hanging into the badly maintained enclosure. This strongly suggests to me that they are moved from here to something else even less suitable every evening. Now I am not a Tarsier expert, I have never worked with them but I reckon that four of the animals I saw were ill and unlikely to recover. I suspect that with the regime here as it is at present that no animal lives more than six to eight weeks. What is really terrible is that this place actually keeping Tarsiers is illegal but no-one does a damn thing about it. What is worse still is that it is actively promoted and advertised by the tourist information office. I am going to write to Gloria Arroya for what its worth.

Typical of Loboc (The visitors know no better)

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You can read more about Zoos by reading my Zoo Hubs where you will find other information and zoo reports listed. Please also check out my blog Zoo News Digest.


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    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      I think they know exactly what they are doing Dohn but just don't care. Tarsiers are a 'difficult' species. I reckon the owners of this place just go and catch replacements you say...horrendous!

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Absolutely horrendous. Yes, these people don't know better and their past education is to be blames. Ignorance is bliss, huh?