Whatever Happened to Manila Zoo?

When in Manila, I’m sure many Filipinos born before the year 2000 had our share of fond memories of Manila Zoo. It’s supposedly one of Manila’s tourist destinations for 52 years now. It has also been a perfect weekend picnic place for people of all ages. Some couples have even made it a “dating place” though they’d probably be shy to admit it lol. In our generation (90’s babies), the word Manila Zoo has almost always been associated with grade-school field trips. But now, the glorious days of ‘the first zoo ever built in Asia’ might all be nothing but a nostalgic memory.


manila zoo entrance

Manila Zoo Entrance


Sometime in 2008, I went back Manila Zoo to take photos of animals for our Photojournalism class. It’s been more than ten years since I last visited the place and there is little (if there’s anything at all) that reminded me of the Manila Zoo that I once knew. The animals looked weak and forlorn, some animals were even missing from their cages. Not to mention, the place looked dull and neglected and it reeked of animal manure. If it weren’t for my task, I wouldn’t have stayed longer on that place.


After that day, I eventually forgot about Manila Zoo, what with my busy college life and all. Fast forward to this day, I saw that the topic “Manila Zoo” is trending on Twitter, I immediately checked it out and I saw 20-year-old Kuro_Akira’s Livejournal post . (I took this horse picture from her post)


horses manila


She actually threw in some strong words on that blogpost, considering she has never even visited Manila Zoo. But she’s hit some good points. Nevertheless, it’s comforting to know that the issue was already brought up to the office of the President. (Read Presidential Spokesperon Edwin Lacierda’s statement regarding Manila Zoo here).


PETA has been campaigning for the closure of the zoo since 2007. Still, Mayor Alfredo Lim announced that his office wouldn’t allow for the famous landmark to close down. Sources told that the zoo has undergone renovations back in 2009. Click on  this gallery for renovation pictures


I guess we got so caught up with too much politics and modern technology that we have neglected other important issues like this.


What do people have to say about Manila Zoo‘s current state? Here are some responses I’ve gotten over the net:


  • “…Being the first zoo ever built in Asia, our government should take pride of it by further developing the facilities and intensifying the health care provided to the animals. We cannot afford to lose the place which once made our country stand out from the rest of the Asian nations.” Maica Quinto, Halfblotprincess blog
  • “some people do appreciate the things when its about to fade, –MANILA ZOO” – @joferthoricois (Twitter)
  • “Masaya ang memories ko ng childhood,isa dun ang MANILA ZOO visits during family bonding and field trips..Let’s help #SaveManilaZoo.” – @ilavgpgdulce (Twitter)
  • “How many times have we heard that Manila Zoo is trying to improve their facilities yet nothing changes. In fact, it has become so deplorable and inhumane that I would rather see it closed for good and the animals transferred to another country with better zoos.” – Karen Ang, The Pro Pinoy Project
  • “Trending ang Manila Zoo kasi ang mga hayop doon ang papayat samantalang ang hayup sa gobyerno ang tataba at nakakalaya pa. tsk!” – (@patdeguzmanph) Twitter


I‘d rather not point fingers because my limited knowledge on this matter doesn’t give me the right to do so. But I believe the best thing to do is to immediately act upon it.  As of now, possible options are to support PETA Asia-Pacific’s petition to stop animals from suffering at Manila Zoo, or help raise funds and restore Manila Zoo into a legitimate animal sanctuary. For those interested to donate money or volunteer to help restore Manila Zoo to a better state, you can call these hotlines: (02)468-9498 and (02) 383-6862.