Manila Zoo to stay closed until 2022 as it prepares for major facelift

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 19 2020 06:25 PM | Updated as of Jun 19 2020 06:53 PM

Manila Zoo to stay closed until 2022 as it prepares for major facelift 1
Photo by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The public will not get to see “Mali,” the 47-year old lone captive elephant in the country, at the Manila Zoo anytime soon. 

And not until the early part of 2022, as the zoo is set to undergo major rehabilitation with a P1.8-billion budget from city hall.

Manila Public Recreation Bureau director Alipio Morabe Jr. told ABS-CBN News the zoo would get a major facelift and would become a world-class wildlife recreation facility once work is completed. 

The massive rehabilitation plan for the 4.5-hectare facility includes putting up a jungle safari, 30-foot man-made waterfall at the lagoon, guided tours, walk-in aviary and getting more endemic species. 

The zoo will also operate longer and will close at 8 p.m. to provide guests an opportunity to observe nocturnal species. 

“Once na ma-rehabilitate ang lugar we will have more spaces for the animals, more suitable enclosures. We can expect na it will be on a higher level, international standards. Hindi na mukhang nakakulong 'yung hayop, more of nasa kung ano 'yung lugar nila nando'n na din tayo,” said Dr. Joseph Pedron, Zoological Division head. 

The elephant's enclosure, for example, will be doubled in space. Species will also be grouped according to their classification. 

The rehabilitation program will be extensive and will require all the zoo’s specialists, animal handlers and administration staff to be on deck, Morabe and Pedron said.

COVID-19 precautions

Changes to be implemented will include compliance with health standards since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis is not expected to end soon. 

Walk-in guests will no longer be allowed once the zoo reopens. 

“Not like before 'pag pumasok ka walk-in, bibili ka ticket sa labas. Ngayon, ang plano namin magiging online na. Limitado na mga tao saka may mga usherettes tayong gagamitin. Kaya magdadagdag ako ng mga empleyado to secure the health of the people who will come in,” said Morabe.

The zoo’s 150 employees now report on two 2-week shifts. Everyone has to wear a face mask at work and a disinfection booth has been set up at the entrance.

Employees also undergo rapid testing. 

“Ang ginagawa natin ngayon nagra-rapid testing tayo. Like me, nag-rapid test ako last week. So who knows after the rapid testing mahawa ako sa iba? So ang plano ko weekly, kung kakayanin ng city government, 'yung mga empleyado ko mapapa-rapid test ko every week,” Morabe said.