MANILA - Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domogoso on Thursday confirmed that entrance fees to the Manila Zoo would be waived for the entire month of January 2022.
The local government is set to announce the maximum number of visitors it can accommodated depending on the COVID-19 situation and entry will be on a first come-first serve basis, Domagoso told reporters during the relaunch of Manila Zoo.
“The capacity of Manila Zoo at 5.5 hectares of space is 17,028 (pax) kung walang (if there is no) COVID," he said.
"If we will follow 2-meter distancing, the capacity is 6,257. If we will follow 1-meter distancing, 9,842… Ilan lamang ang ia-accommodate natin araw at gabi (We can accommodate only a limited number of people in the morning and in the evening)," he said.
Those who will not be able to immediately enter the menagerie will have to wait in the parking lot, the mayor said.
So far, online reservations and payments are unavailable as visitors from impoverished areas may not have access to the internet, he said.
"Darating ang oras na may online payment para maging efficient," he said.
(There will be a time when we will have online payment so that we can be more efficient.)
"For now, we will play it by ear. Titingnan natin yung load, titingnan natin yung COVID. Yun ang importante," he said.
(We will look at the load, we will look at COVID. That's what's important.)
Leonora Llemarubio, an 81-year-old grandmother, was among the initial visitors of Manila Zoo.
While she may be more vulnerable to COVID-19, Llemarubio said it is important for senior citizens like her to be able to venture out of their houses and enjoy open spaces from time to time.
"Minsan kasi walang kasama sa bahay, kamukha ko. Pag nagpasukan sila, ako na lang sa bahay," she told ABS-CBN News.
(Sometimes, the elderly, like me, are left alone at home. When they go to school or work, I'm just alone at home.)
"Ngayon kung makapasyal ka, umaaliwalas yung kalooban mo," she said.
(But if we're given a chance to have some leisure time outside, we feel better on the inside.)
Children also need to have a chance to visit zoos, said Remy Glen Fajardo, a mother who had her 7-year-old daughter in tow during Manila Zoo's sneak peek.
"Nakikita nila face to face [ang mga hayop], natuto sila kung paano ang interaction between human at sa mga animals at yung mga behavior," she said.
(They have to see animals face to face so that they can learn the interaction between humans and animals, and their respective behaviors.)
"Para hindi sa libro lang nila naiintindihan. Kumbaga sa actual, mas maiintindihan nila," she said.
(They need this so that they can understand it beyond books. They tend to understand it better when they get to actually experience it.)
Hours before Asia's oldest zoo was relaunched, the Philippines confirmed 1,623 new COVID-19 cases, prompting the government to raise Alert Level 2 nationwide.
Alert 2 allows select establishments to operate at up to 50 percent of their indoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals.
Domagoso said the free entrance to Manila Zoo was put in place while the city council is still drafting an ordinance to finalize the menagerie's new ticket prices.
Zoo officials earlier proposed to hike the entrance fee to P200 for non-Manila residents and P100 for those living in the capital city.