I can still remember how sad I was seeing the condition of the animals at the Manila Zoo the first time I went there with my family. I was in college then.
They had become the skin and bones representations of their former selves. The hippopotamus was hiding in very filthy water and the zoo’s pride, Maali, was just alone in her area.
BRIGHTER AND BETTER days are coming for these animals. Manila mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso in is the process of rehabilitating the 61-year old zoo in the hopes of rivaling other zoos in Southeast Asia.
The zoo was shut down on orders of the mayor’s office even before the pandemic because it was identified as a major pollutant of the Manila Bay. Two years into the pandemic with no generated income, it is surviving. The mayor assures everyone all the animals are healthy and eating well.
In the previous administration, some animal rights groups have condemned the situation of the animals in the zoo. There had been a call to move Maali to Thailand, as she was not treated well.
Meanwhile, a new zoo will surely bring in more tourists, not only Filipinos, that will provide more food for the 640 animals. And if all the animals are safe and healthy, the place becomes for them a sanctuary instead of just a tourist attraction.
Mayor Moreno’s beautification project has helped not only the local government but also the residents for generating jobs and livelihood.
The ₱1.73 billion zoo rehabilitation project will include a veterinary hospital, new animal habitats, gardens, a museum, restaurants, and a new parking area. The construction began this year and they are looking forward to completing the makeover in 19 months. Mr Moreno said they are eyeing December, a month of celebration, to open the zoo for a soft public viewing.
Not for kids only, the new zoo targets elders, too. There will be golf carts for them.
After 19 months, a happy place for humans and animals will rise.
The ‘Bagong Manila Zoo’ is expected to be more than a public attraction, and a more sustainable home for all the animals. (CyD/The MiNT)
Featured image: An artist’s rendition of the Bagong Manila Zoon entrance. /Credit: City of Manila