MANILA - Two Bengal tiger cubs have been named 'Duterte' and 'Leni' by the Malabon Zoo, in hopes that the country will enjoy a "tiger economy" under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Malabon Zoo owner Manny Tangco told ABS-CBN News that the cubs also share some of the traits of their namesakes.
"Duterte is very frank. He sees things as it is and he also takes good care of his sibling," Tangco said.
"Leni is very gentle but tends to get rough when she has had enough," Tangco added.
The two-month old cubs that were spawned by Malabon Zoo's resident tigers 'Ninoy' and 'Cory,' each consume half a kilo of pork or beef and a small can of infant's milk per day.
Aside from the Bengals, seven baby Philippine Reticulated Pythons were also hatched at the zoo.
The Malabon Zoo takes pride in these hatchlings as this snake sub-specie is already considered endangered.
"The Philippine Reticulated Python is the longest snake in the world as they can grow up to 30-feet in length. The babies already measure up to two-feet as soon as they hatch from their eggs," Tangco said.
The zoo has yet to name the python hatchlings, and wants the public to take part in naming the baby reptiles. People may forward suggestions to the Malabon Zoo.
The month-old pythons are fed with mice, similar to their usual food preference in the wild.
"Their (pythons') major diet in the wild is usually mice. When these pythons disappear from our forests and rice fields, the rat population will increase and finish off our corn and rice," the zoo owner explained.
Tangco said children should be exposed to the boons of breeding and wildlife protection to ensure that animals that play vital roles in the food chain will not be extinct.
He also encouraged parents to let their children interact with animals, provided that it is done in a safe and professional environment.
"All the animals born in the Malabon Zoo grew up in my home. While they are still young, they are fed by my family and sleep in my bedroom so that they will be accustomed to interacting with people," Tangco assured guests who lined up to touch the animals.
He said people will learn more from close, personal interactions with animals such as tigers and snakes. These interactions may also help people empathize more with these endangered species.
"A thousand documentaries is equivalent to one eye-to-eye contact with a living animal," he said.