Monday, April 25, 2016

Rediscovering Manila: Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden

       Manila is blessed with so many places for recreation. Whether you're hanging out with your friends bonding with your family, there are a lot of options here where you can go to. One of them is the Manila Zoo (formally known as Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden), a 5.5-hectare (14-acre) zoo located in Malate, Manila. Located along Adriatico St., Manila, the Zoo also has canteens, photo booths, souvenir shops, boating rentals at the lagoon and several playgrounds that cater to children and tourists. You can actually go picnic inside while enjoying the flora and fauna that can be found here.

Main entrance
       Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden opened its doors to the public on July  25, 1959. It serves as one of the educational centers in the country where the viewing public can observe, discover and learn interesting facts about the beauty of Philippine fauna and flora. Manila Zoo has a land area of 5.5 hectares and has a current population of about 500 animals.

Daily scene at the zoo
       As of this writing, entrance fee to the zoo are categorized to Manilan's and Non-Manilans. For those who are residing in Manila, the fee for an adult and a child above 4ft. is PHP50. Entrance fee for the child below 4ft. is PHP30. One should bring any valid ID to prove that you really are a Manila resident. I have been living in Manila for 3 years now and unfortunately, I don't have any ID that time to prove it so I ended up paying the Non-Manilan's rate which is PHP100. Children above 4ft. is also PHP100, otherwise its PHP50.

Attractions

       There are 106 species, among which are 30 different kinds of mammals, 63 reptile species and 13 types of birds. In addition to popular zoo occupants such as an Asian elephant, variety of reptiles, Philippine deer, double-wattled cassowary, tigers, lions, hippos and a variety of birds. Manila Zoo also houses several endemic and indigenous species of animals like the bearcat, long-tailed macaques and crocodiles.

Maali, the world's loneliest elephant
       Maalis is arguably the favorite attraction among the animals in the zoo. Maali is an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and is the only elephant in the country. She was a gift for the late Ferdinand Marcos, then President of the Philippines at that time in 1997 when she was just 3 years old. Her home was once the grasslands of Sri Lanka. The zoo has been her home for  nearly 40 years. She is 42 years old this 2016. And for those four decades, she would not see her mother or another elephant again. Mali has lived all alone since 1977. And it’s clear she’s never considered this zoo her home.

       Animal rights advocates from all over the world have been protesting to free Maali and return her to the wild. In 2013, Hollywood actress and PETA member  Pamela Anderson even wrote a letter to President Ninoy Aquino requesting for Maali's release but no action has been taken yet up to this day. Beatles member Paul McCartney also wrote a letter to President Aquino requesting the same.

       Maali is the first elephant that I saw in my 24 years of existence. When I first saw her, although I'm amused, I can't help myself but felt pity for her. I knew she was lonely and has been longing for that life she had some 40 years ago. If I would become the President of the Philippines, I would have released Maali to the grasslands of Sri Lanka right where she belong.

From upper left (Clockwise): ostrich, hippopotamus, burmese python, and Philippine deer
       Then there's Reptile House where a varieties of reptiles cam be found. Attractions incluse a Burmese python, green iguana, Philippine cobra, estuarine crocodile, tortoise, sailfin water lizard and more.

Aviary
        There's also an aviary that houses several types of birds which includes egret, macaw, parrots and more. As a friendly reminder, feeding animals is strictly prohibited.

Photo Souvenir shop
       Now to immortalize your visit here in the zoo, you can have your photographs taken at this photo souvenir shop where in you can choose whether you will have birds as your props or you can have the yellow Burmese python hang around your neck!

      It's a nice experience for me to go back to a zoo since the last time was when I am 11 years old. The park needs extra care and maintenance as the place looks old already to attract more tourists. It's recommended for family, especially the kids.

How to get there?


       Via LRT 1, the nearest station is Quirino Station where you can actually walk westward (towards Baywalk) about 300 meters. From MRT, you can get there via MRT Taft Avenue Station then transfer to LRT 1 EDSA Station then drop off at Quirino Station. From LRT 2, you can transfer to LRT 1 at Recto Station then connect to LRT Doroteo Jose station. There are jeepneys from Quezon City passing by España and Quiapo, take jeepneys with sighboard Harrisson/Vito Cruz and Mabini. Just request the driver to drop you off in front of the zoo. This is the same for jeepneys on Rizal Avenue (Avenida) and Sta. Cruz. From Baclaran, you can take the LRT and get off at Quirino Avenue station or better, just ride a jeep to Quiapo/Sta. Cruz/Divisoria with Mabini on the signboard (never the ones with Taft as they don't pass by in front of the zoo) 

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