Architecture grad behind Manila Zoo renovation wants animals’ welfare to be priority

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2019 08:52 PM | Updated as of Oct 11 2019 05:25 AM

MANILA (UPDATE)—Larger enclosures that mimic natural habitats await Manila Zoo's animals, as soon as the Philippines' second oldest wildlife park completes its long overdue facelift, the project's designer said Thursday.

The design of the new Manila Zoo will also be based on the animals' needs, not just people's comforts, said Kevin Siy, a University of Santo Tomas BS Architecture graduate, who donated his park design to the city government.

"Gusto ko kasi hindi 'yong mga animals 'yong naka-enclose. Parang gusto ko 'yong tao ang naka-enclose," Siy told ABS-CBN News.

"Ayoko ma-feel ng mga animals na sila 'yong nae-enclose kasi parang tayo 'yong bumibisita [sa habitat nila]."


Photo from Kevin Siy

Mali, the lone elephant in the Philippines, will have a bigger pen that will be filled with loam sand to cushion her feet, Siy said.

Since elephants are social animals, a portion of Mali's new home will be open for guests to help feed her during select hours.

A shallow pool, where the 44-year-old elephant can bathe and cool down, will also be constructed.


Photo from Kevin Siy

Siy also proposed to incorporate a viewing tunnel in the zoo's crocodile enclosure to allow park visitors to see the reptiles' behavior underwater.

Another option is to have boat rides near the crocodile pens, he said.

Photo from Kevin Siy



More trees will also be planted inside the 5.5-hectare property to provide more homes for birds and primates.

Other pens and cages will also be enlarged based on international standards and recommendations of Manila Zoo's veterinary team, Siy said.

"We want to improve the lifespans of the zoo's remaining animals," he said.


Photo from Kevin Siy

Manila Zoo will open a café that will serve Filipino food and beverages, Siy said, noting that visitors will dine al fresco.

Photo from Kevin Siy

A show area where trained animals can showcase their talents will also be part of the refurbished zoo.

A space will be allotted for a sewage treatment plant and a materials recovery facility, Siy said.

The new concept for Manila Zoo was Siy’s undergraduate thesis, but he later donated it to the city government, which started drawing plans for the zoo's renovation earlier this year after the 60-year-old facility was closed in January for dumping untreated water into the Manila Bay.

It also received flak over the years for its deteriorating state and its alleged improper or inadequate care for its captive animals.

Siy said a timetable for the renovation of the zoo has yet to be set, as city hall officials are still assessing the cost of the project.

Siy has been working under the supervision of Architect Joy Dawis, Manila’s Special Projects chief to finalize the concept.

Some details of Siy’s Manila Zoo design was also tweaked by Architect Rogelio Caringal, his thesis adviser.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno earlier said the local government would not sell the park to private entities, but would accept donations to help fund the zoo's rehabilitation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article mentioned Siy as an architect. He is a junior architect who has yet to take his board examinations. We regret the error.