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12 July 2011 @ 10:21 pm
Cramped Cages, Dirty Habitats: The Sadness that is Manila Zoo  
July 15, 2011 I have posted a new blog, this time my own personal experiences and observations of the zoo. You may view it here.

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Disclaimer: The photos are not mine (credits to those who originally photographed them), and are not very recent. (2008-2010) I have not been to the zoo myself, so this is only from an outsider's point of view. Anyone who has been to the zoo recently, do correct me if anything in this entry is off. :)

Another Disclaimer: This blog was written for a school project and was not meant to directly attack the zoo or its employees, but only to get the issue known and hopefully spark some action.

- - -

I've been hearing about Manila Zoo for a while. People would say it sucks, don't go there, etc. I heard practically zero good things about it. Why exactly were people so negative about it? I got curious, so I looked it up. And wow, was I shocked by what I found.

Poor thing. :( One of the many malnourished animals at Manila Zoo.

The Manila Zoo is a 5.5-hectare zoo located in Manila, Philippines. It opened on July 25th, 1959. This zoo is almost 50 years old. The problem? It really does look 50 years old. Another problem? It receives millions of visitors every year, local and foreign. What a shameful tourist destination it is.

The zoo's entrance is normal looking, decent, even. Not like the depressing interior.

Dirt-cheap entrance fees. Probably one of the reasons for the zoo's poor maintenance. Sadly they have no right to charge more either, based from the condition of the zoo.

Map of the zoo. Looks small and simple enough. But "small" is one of the zoo's biggest problems.

Old, rusty cages. Hardly any animal in sight.

This is Mali, the zoo's biggest attraction. He is an Asian elephant that arrived at the zoo as an orphaned calf donated from Sri Lanka.

He is the biggest attraction but what kind of an enclosure is that? It's sad, small, tight and boring.

Disgusting looking pond.

Yes there is a tiger in this photo. Yes those are dead leaves from who knows how many days or weeks. Why isn't anyone cleaning up the mess?

An even worse mess--literal trash? What is wrong with this zoo's maintenance?

Sad tiger.

Look, horses!

Wait, why do they look like that?

You can almost see its bones. Sick and not in the cool way.

How could it possibly get worse than that?

How about this rabbit's untreated wound?

Or this ostrich with a dead eye?

Horrible and sickening, isn't it. Yes, a lot of other visitors thought the same way. I read through a number of reviews. Here are some of them:

"I don't know if the horses, zebras and tigers are well fed because they are seemed to be bulimic. The only acceptable exhibits in this zoo are the different species of birds and to some extent the reptiles as they seemed to be well fed.

Most of the animal cages are not clean, as what are the purpose of having bottles of mineral water and other trash doing inside the tiger's cage. I hope the solitude elephant would not die of boredom. I have fond memories of this zoo when I was 5 or 6 years old but now I am even discouraging my friends to visit this zoo."

"This zoo needs to be closed. It's beyond embarrassing. Can't believe the City of Manila would allow it to operate under such deplorable conditions, and permit it to be exploited as a sight seeing spot. My god what a sad dreadful place."

"I am working in Manila for 3 months and thought I would visit the zoo one Sunday. What a mistake. The animals are living in filthy conditions, the food lies rotting on the floor of the cages, the cages are inadequately too small, some of the animals are up to their knees in mud and feces. Their coats are matted and filthy. One poor animal, which I cannot name because the cages for the most part do not have labels, was rocking back and forth at the corner of his tiny cage (pacing). What a very sad commentary on the way we treat animals. I agree with the other person who said this zoo should be closed. The sad part is most of these animals are old and where else could they go. They need a lot of help. I am told it has improved but it has a long way to go."

"I sadly have to echo other comments suggesting that this is the worst zoo others and myself have ever visited.

The conditions in which the animals were housed was depressing.

Regrettably, this zoo has little to recommend it and should ideally be closed."

Reviews from Trip Advisor

I also found some more stories from visitors. A visitor from the US went to the zoo because his wife said it would be a good experience. He was able to watch in horror as a zookeeper punished an alligator by stabbing its head with a nail attached to a stick. (source) Another visitor claimed to have spotted a Philippine Eagle lying down dead on the pathway. The same person said a Palawan bear cat suddenly dropped dead in his cage in front of their 7-year-old nephew. (source)

It seems that there are also issues with the people who visit the zoo. A reviewer who used to love the zoo visited again recently and complained about people throwing things at the animals. (source) Another reviewer reported a man who fed a bird to the crocodiles, but was only answered with "that is no longer our concern." (source)

Some people even called it “The Worst Zoo I've Ever Visited”, and said “Needs to be closed.” Another suggested, “Do not support this zoo. Go to the Philippine Avilon Zoo instead!”.

Sad, isn't it? Our capital's namesake zoo, a complete and utter shame. This zoo was once a good one. But poor maintenance ruined and destroyed it. Because of this, animals are suffering. I'd say they would be better off elsewhere, because this zoo is no shelter.

Unless things change.

According to the PETA Asia Pacific website, there were reports of Thailand planning to send a new elephant to Manila Zoo at the request of Mayor Alfredo Lim. But fortunately for them, it was found that Thailand had no such plan.

PETA Asia has apparently been campaigning against the zoo for years now. They sent the Mayor many requests to visit the zoo and see for himself the suffering the animals had to endure. The requests were ignored.

How are things supposed to change when our officials ignore these calls for change?

I guess all we can do is keep trying. Spread awareness, and pray that somehow, something will happen for the good of the zoo.

In fact, the zoo is reportedly attempting to improve their facilities.

Let's see how that will turn out.

Edit: PETA Asia-Pacific has a petition you can sign to Stop More Animals from Suffering at the Manila Zoo. See it here.

Edit 2: A friend of mine who visited the zoo recently said there have definitely been improvements. "It's better looking than that last time I visited. The Crocs were finally spaced out and the tigers enclosure was cool and green. And I didn't see any frighteningly thin horses." Hopefully the improvements keep up and the horror in this post will not happen again.

Written and gathered for NATSCA2 class
Sources: Tripadvisor.com, PETA Asia, Hubpages, and Google Images
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( Post a new comment )
wingedrivers.insanejournal.comwingedrivers.insanejournal.com on July 12th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
Why not start a petition?


The kewl news is that this site's actually helped several causes. Why not start one? I'll sign the petition, those animals shouldnt' be treated like that.
drmslyrdrmslyr on July 12th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
this is so sad. i do think that a petition will be very helpful~
fademianfademian on July 12th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
So sad
This is Painful to watch I support the start a petition comment .
ねいneitaro on July 13th, 2011 12:48 am (UTC)
Damn... I didn't know that Manila Zoo was like that. It's too heartbreaking. I really wish that there's something we could do. And I am also asking your permission to link this entry to all my accounts so I can spread the word to all of my friends.

This is one of the reasons why I think that our country is hopeless. I'm so sorry... but I've already lost hope a long time ago...
Veritas et Joey: manikakovox_veritas on July 13th, 2011 08:24 am (UTC)
There was a massive rehabilitation program for Manila Zoo held a few years ago and seeing these photos, I can assume the money that was gathered for that project went to dubious pockets. Again. How tragic.

I will start a petition for the zoo to be closed down. Thank you for the eye-opener, Nix.
wickedbunnystar on July 13th, 2011 12:24 pm (UTC)
I have volunteered for the zoo recently and I would like to defend the zoo. Manila Zoo is owned by the government and they do not receive their budget regularly. For example, if the budget and supplies they're supposed to be receive last quarter last year, they only received it about a month ago. Yes, the entrance fee is cheap also, so how can you expect them to beautify the zoo immediately? The only way they are able to add money to their fund is through the coins that people were throwing into the ponds of the animals, that even if you sum them up, it won't still be enough. And because of the limited budget they have, you can't also expect that they have enough food to feed the animals. Unless you might want to donate some in order for the animals to eat more? That would really mean a lot to the animals and the zoo as well.

And the visitors are also responsible for how the zoo is now. Simple rules such as throwing their trash in the trash bins are not followed. They throw their water bottles and junk food foils in the enclosure of the crocodile.Do you expect the caretaker to just jump inside it to clean it even if his safety will be put to risk? Another simple rule that the visitors can't follow is that DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS. Hard headed they are, they still reach food to the monkeys even if we warned them already not to. Some didn't just reach the food, but threw them inside. There are other visitors who even try to pluck out the feathers of the birds.

As for Mali, who by the way is a female, her enclosure is bigger already being extended at the back.

The animals that needs to be treated are always immediately removed from the enclosure and placed at the quarantine area. The veterinarians see to it that they are given proper treatment and are well taken care of.

Why do you guys always see problems in Manila Zoo? Just because it is a public zoo? Is that why PETA and all other people will always put the Zoo down unlike in other zoos that are privately owned? Is it because you can't enter those zoos and inspect and criticize them that's why you always see the fault in Manila Zoo? You just don't know how hard the veterinarians and the caretakers really work to maintain the animals.

If you really want the zoo to become a wonderful place again, DO SOMETHING AND NOT CRITICIZE IT!
valerious_dvalerious_d on July 13th, 2011 01:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your opinion. It's interesting to get another point of view on the issue.

I'd like to point out a few things.

1. The author of this post already pointed out that the fees are low, so it's not TOO surprising that it's hard to maintain. But she is also concerned for the welfare of the animals and the maintenance of the zoo. That's why we can't just let this pass just because the funds don't arrive right away.

2. Even if it were the visitor's responsibility, it's still up to the employees in Manila Zoo to make sure these visitor's are disciplined.

3. This is actually the first time I've heard of the issue with Manila Zoo, so am not sure why you're saying "why we always see problems with it". And even if we did, why can't we complain? This is a serious issue dealing with animal rights and the lack of the Philippine government to fix this. Would you rather more foreigners complain about it? That's even more embarrassing that the locals doing so.

4. Related to #3, no I don't think this has anything to do with it being "publicly"-owned or privately owned. It's on the matter of "The animals of Manila Zoo look mistreated and we want to do something about it."

5.Actually you're right. We shouldn't just complain. That's why the author shared this blog to her friends and word spread around and now people are willing to find something to do about it. PinoyTumblr posted her link and this is already trending on Twitter. Petitions have been created and people are signing it. So at least even if she herself can't do anything about it now, maybe a higher power will.

In the end, all that we're asking is these animals are taken to a place where they are better treated. If Manila Zoo cannot afford to do it because the government has other pressing issues or there's money problems, then let's send these animals to a place that can.

(no subject) - ricah_haruna on July 13th, 2011 01:06 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - Amanojaku Yokai on July 15th, 2011 04:22 am (UTC)
(no subject) - ipe on July 13th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - marieangelcakes on July 13th, 2011 01:43 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - pag_agos on July 13th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - pag_agos on July 13th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - monjimonj on July 13th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
Volunteering - Jemimah Bantigue on July 13th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
volunteer at manila zoo - John Leo Gavino Gamboa on July 14th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
(no subject) - seekingdeeper on July 16th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
Lealy Antonio GalangLealy Antonio Galang on July 13th, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
Even if they start to improve their facilities at this moment, Isnt it already a bit too late? Why act at the point when the animals are already dying? For the sake of those creatures, I think they should be sent away to a better habitat because renovating a zoo isnt that simple and fast :|
miguelle samsonsanMIGUELLEbeer on July 13th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
Fine.yeah,sure say what you want about Manlia Zoo call it cheap or whatsoever....But you're going to far with the insulting....Ask me why I care? here's my answer...BECAUSE IAM A PILIPINO...And no you don't spell it with a "F"....Our prices may be cheap but its kinda worth it....Its better than paying to go to some crappy empty zoo...And you know why we can't give it for free? Because the people working there won't have that much...Fine call their salary small...once you totaled the money that they earn but that small thing for them is big because its better than money....To tell the truth...We have A LOT of poor people with nowhere to live ..And why there's garbage? Because THE BINS ARE ALREADY FULL...Or they're just too lazy to put it in
Jaijaiant_panda on July 13th, 2011 02:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Seriously?!
You are completely missing the point. It's NOT about that at ALL. It IS, however, about the poor animals that are suffering because of this. She is NOT INSULTING THE FILIPINO PEOPLE, she IS one, for crying out loud. All she is doing is calling attention to the atrocity that is happening in Manila Zoo. If you're so concerned about your image as a citizen of the Philippines, you would not want this zoo to be associated with your country. It represents laziness, neglect and apathy, the "bahala na" attitude that we Filipinos are sadly known for.

I suggest you take a reading and comprehension course or two, because the main essence of this article flew right over your head.
Re: Seriously?! - jaiant_panda on July 13th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
Barry CyrusBarry Cyrus [wordpress.com] on July 13th, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
Unbelievable. I visited the place when I was a kid. I hope further action gets done, but thanks PETA.
Purple Hale: gokuderameganepurplehale on July 13th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
I went there last year I think and all I can say is it was poorly maintained. It was my first time visiting the zoo since I'm not originally from Manila but yeah, the condition of the animals were really sad. I was expecting it to be somewhat nicely maintained since it's a tourist attraction but was disappointed.

But I'm glad they are NOW aware of the problem since someone finally wrote about it. I hope this brings good attention to the officials because such carelessness can also harm their reputation. And the animals need better treatment.
bulbop on July 14th, 2011 10:24 am (UTC)
sa tingin ko dapat mag volunteer ang mga tao and mag donate ng animal food, medical supplies. wag mag donate ng pera para ndi mapunta sa bulsa ng iba. sa mga volunteer dapat may sarili silang depot para mag distribute at inventory ng donations. Para sa mga tao na gusto mag pakain ng mga hayop, dapat may store na parang feature na rin na nag bebenta ng pag kain na nararapat dun sa hayop para kung ndi mapigilan at least ma manage. tapos dun sa mga nag tatapon ng basura, dapat sila pilitin pulutin ang kalat nila or throw them out. kaya sa mga care takers, oo dapat maging magiting kayo sa pag saway, karapatan nyo yun at responsibilidad ninyo yun.

Kung tutuusin malinis narin ang manila zoo dahil dagsaan talaga ang mga tao dyan, siguro na tyempohan lang yung mineral water bottle dun sa tiger cage. last time I went there mga 2 years ago, 2009 nun 2008 yung pictures eh, ok naman yung zoo although payat talaga yung mga kabayo kasi walang damo dun kasi ang init sa manila.

I suggest also na next election vote wisely, If you want change then change the people in the government stop voting for the same persons or persons belonging to the same family, we need new blood to revive our dying society, our dying morality and country, not just to save the animals.
Bryan Laminero CaldeteraBryan Laminero Caldetera on July 14th, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
aren't these zoo's suppose to take care of those animal!!! what the heck is happening here??? It seems the zoo's still gaining income for it's maintenance?!?! is the local government of Manila have fund for this??? better yet give the animals to other zoo were they can be taken care of!!! Hope this petition could help those poor animals!!!
~~~: TOPjela_ow on July 14th, 2011 02:02 pm (UTC)
I visited the zoo about two years ago and the condition of the entire zoo just made me sad. It was really dirty and the enclosures for the animals were cramped. It was pretty obvious that they didn't maintain the place well and they didn't take care of the animals enough as they should. I must say though that the elephant's area is bigger than that because he could pass through the gate and the other side was quite spacious and had a hoop for playing ball. It was really dirty though and he didn't look like he just looked sad there :(

Animal rights should be a bigger issue in the Philippines, tbh. I had recently gone to Baluarte in Ilocos Sur and the animals aren't taken much care of there too. The place is completely open to the public and you have ostriches,deers and ponies running around tourists and a few going through garbage cans with no staff to stop them immediately. It's obvious that policies regarding animal rights aren't very strict and well implemented here and it's a shame. It's understandable though, at least to me, because of the problems regarding poverty and corruption. The government focuses on these more than animal rights but I wish they'd at least take care to oversee how zoos take care of these animals.

Thank you for sharing this and spreading awareness!
~~~: TOPjela_ow on July 14th, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC)
*he didn't look like he was having fun and he just looked sad there
Gan LordGan Lord on July 15th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
My first and last visit in Manila Zoo was in 1985-1986 and I was 5-6 years old back then, it was an awesome sight with the rhinos, hippos, giraffes, lions, cranes, crocodiles, and many others but I wonder if they are still there? The main problem with Manila Zoo today is lack of funds, they really need to increase their entrance fee and get more sponsors not only from the local government but also from private groups.
proudfilipino on July 15th, 2011 05:41 am (UTC)
This blog article has misled us all! It took away justice to the few people trying to save Manila Zoo quietly even with the lack of support and appreciation. The blogger should have instead visited the place before putting up such a careless write-up and using old photos to stir reactions, overreactions and exaggerations! It is not fair!

Kuya Kim for one has been keen on asking public support for the aging Manila Zoo and so he regularly features the park so that many people would visit it. Obviously, Manila Zoo’s infrastructure needs an upgrade but I am definitely sure that changes were done for the past years to further improve the park amidst challenges.

The blogger's intention may be good but the delivery is way too irresponsible! So the blogger owes the public updated photos of the zoo and possible apology for pushing Manila Zoo to close down! It's like seeing Pasig River dirty and suddenly we call for the closure of the water way! This is irresponsible journalism. We need to write not just to express or even impress but to enlighten the world with facts in our own little ways. Otherwise, your talent is not helping at all!

You could have closed your article by asking people to patronize Manila Zoo. In that way, it can regain its glory! Kesa manawagang ibagsak nyo ang isang bagay, dapat matuto din kayong tumulong para sa ikaaayos ng mga bagay-bagay! Kung may sira ba ang bahay mo, ipapagiba mo? Kung mayaman ka, pwede pa. Kung hindi naman, humanap ng remedyo! Be proactive! I am also a blogger by the way and I criticize things BUT only when I have the facts! No more. No less!

Sinira mo ang imahe ng bansa nating labis nang lugmok sa kahihiyan at kawalanghiyaang dulot ng irresponsableng gawain ng ilang pulitiko, obispo at nating mga reklamador na mamamayan! So are you proud that your blog got all the media attention to the point of putting down Manila Zoo and the country due to your outdated and misleading article? Thanks!
Nixkuro_akira on July 15th, 2011 06:18 am (UTC)
Hello. I have indeed posted an updated blog. I was aware these photos were outdated, and so have sought to give people a real view of the zoo's current state. When I posted this it was homework. I had no idea it would escalate to this level. I did not ask for any of this. I merely posted what I found. But in an attempt to be more fair, here is my post about last Thursday's visit:


I never wanted the zoo to close down. In fact I am all for the improvement of the zoo. I merely stated the sentiments of some people who did visit the zoo back then. But what big authorities do is no longer under my control. I am not a news blogger nor am I an activist, I am an artist and I usually only post my own work. This is one of the only times I blogged about an issue I thought needed addressing, and therefore, considering the usual content of my blog, never expected it to get as big as it did.

I am aware it was irresponsible, misleading, non-validated. But I have done what I can to "correct" it. Again I did not ask for any of this. I did not ask PETA to close it down. I did not ask Malacanang to issue a statement. I only wanted people to know. I have done what I can.

My updated post has been published at Propinoy.net as well (the site that was responsible for the worldwide trend)