Malabon Zoo in Manila in the Philippines
Malabon Zoo in Manila is a private collection of exotic and Philippine endemic animals. The owner, Mr Manny Tangco started the collection in the late 1960s in the back garden of his house and it expanded out from there. A hobby which turned into a labour of love.
The Zoo, open from 08.00 to 17.30 each day is located at 1 Gov Pascual Street, Barrio Potrero, Malabon, Metro Manila.
Reaching the Malabon zoo and aquarium is quite easy from most points in Manila. Head to the LRT and purchase a ticket for Monumento. On leaving the station look down the road for the Monumento (Monument) and walk towards this. Cross straight over and continue down the road. After a five minute walk you will see signs for the zoo and following these you will be there in just a few minutes more.
In comparison to some other Manila Zoos this one is quite expensive at 120 Pesos for adults.
Painted on the wall outside of the zoo is a letter from the local Hospital Chief to the owner. it reads:
"Mr Manny Tangco October 11 2006
Malabon Zoo!!! What an experience. Even with all the recreational Hi-Tech things we can do at present I could not help but be awed with my experience here at Malabon Zoo. I would rather bring my child here than any mall or theme park here. They have such great biodiveristy. All animal are in good condition. It is clean and well maintained. The staff are nice probably because Mr. Tangco himself is a very nice and warm person. I hope more parents and even friends should bring their loved ones at Malabon Zoo.
Dr. Jose Dustin D Morfe, Chief of Hospital, Apayabo District Hospital"
Now I am sorry. Sorry for the Hospital Chief because he has obviously had quite a sheltered life. Malabon Zoo is a sad little place with insufficient space for the majority of the animals it keeps. I do not believe that deliberate cruelty is an issue here, it simply because they do not and can not do any better. I don't doubt that Mr. Tangco is a very nice man.
If somehow the visitor to Malabon Zoo could close their eyes to the cages and conditions as they walked through the zoo and simply read the inspirational signs they would come out the other side a better person.
I don't believe there is another zoo anywhere with as much signage drawing attention to global warming and climate change. The implication is that the animals in the zoo are being rescued from the wild. Sorry, but we have not got that desperate yet.
The staff at Malabon and Mr Tangco himself could learn much by visiting better collections or having some multiskilled keepers visit for a week or so.
The Manila Zoo very often gets bad press in Manila, and quite rightfully so. However in the general scheme of things the Manila Zoo is all round very much better than Malabon.
Neither collection shows any pretensions at being the member of a breeding progamme of any sort or being involved with education. Lacking just these two tenets of the raison d'etre of a zoo is enough for me to question why these particular zoos exist in the first place.
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Philippine Brown Deer Enclosure
Animals in captivity do not require the amount of space they do in the wild. Here though the majority of animals are severely resticted. The Philippine Brown Deer are stabled on concrete 24/7. They have no paddock as such. Whereas the food they were eating looked good and the fact that they were breeding are signs that they are cared for it is simply not enough.
One of several totally inadequate crocodile enclosures
One of the very few 'non inspirational' signs
But the Salty says
In spite of the really huge amount of signage here there is actually very little to educate the visitors about the animals. Animal related signs are a rarity.
This is a safe zoo to visit, comparatively, because for a good portion of it it is the visitors who are caged. Where there are barriers they are wide and there are actually a few staff wandering about. It is a small zoo though.
The pity is that the cages such as they are obstruct viewing.
Plant a Tree
Say You Love Me
Malabon Zoo Library
They do have a grizzly bear here too. Impossible to photograph through the wire and clutter.
When you wander around a collection like this you wish there was something better...a rescue centre perhaps? Not so. In Is it a Zoo I say "this absolutely ignorant concept that you cannot rescue something TO a zoo but only FROM a zoo" . Malabon and Manila are a case in point because any animal 'rescued' from here would end up in Metro Manilas official rescue centre at Nino Aquino Park and Wildlife Centre. There the space restrictions bare probably tighter and funding smaller.
The Tigers 'Inside' Housing
The Enclosures in Malabon Zoo range from bad to rotten. Once again the Evil Philippine Dog Cage raises its ugly head and acts as the influence for the design of housing for so many different species.
The only enclosure which was halfway decent was one of the two tiger displays. Here there was unobstructed glass viewing....it was also probably the largest cage in the zoo. Three tigers in there. Two were limping badly. The third never moved during my visit.
The Tigers is one of the more spacious enclosures
The sign on the Orangutan Cage suggested that they had actually heard of enrichment. The enclosure did contain a few tyres and ropes so something is/has been done to make life more interesting. As with many zoos though it is missing the point. There is a big difference between absolutely essential cage furniture and enrichment.
I did not see much even in the way of furniture in other exhibits. Many of these were just too small. The Leopard Cat is a case in point.
Sign at Orangutan
Good Zoo or Bad Zoo?
I have visited a lot of zoos and I suppose Malabon would appear somewhere in the bottom ten. Malabon Zoo though would be in the company of some multi million dollar commercial set ups whose sole reason is exploitation of the creatures they exhibit.
Malabon, I feel, means well but just misses the point.
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