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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.
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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?
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