By Ferdinand Patinio

NO RELOCATION. Families troop to the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, commonly known as Manila Zoo, to spend Christmas in this Dec. 25, 2022 photo. Officials of the Manila City government on Monday (July 8, 2024) rejected the call for the zoo’s relocation to the Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal. (PNA file photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, commonly known as Manila Zoo, is not transferring elsewhere, city officials said Monday.

In a statement, Mayor Honey Lacuna said the city government has plans to make the facility at par with its Southeast Asian counterparts,

“We want Manila Zoo’s future to be a well-planned, realistic roadmap based on sound science and zoo management, and with due sensitivity to the cherished place of the Manila Zoo in the hearts of Manileños and the childhood memories of many Filipinos,’” she said.

Lacuna added that the zoo’s relocation is out of the options, stressing that it is part of the city’s heritage and history.

“It will not be the Manila Zoo if it is located anywhere else,” she said.

She also said the city is awaiting the enactment of the New Government Procurement Act and its implementing rules and regulations, which she said would serve as the key parameters of the city’s plans for the zoo.

“We also intend to convene a panel of experts to conduct preparatory work, such as research and hearings, and receive input from stakeholders. We are not even talking about the relocation of the animals and the Masungi Georeserve. We are not going there. There could be other options, but Masungi is not on that roadmap,” she added.

Vice Mayor John Marvin “Yul Servo” Nieto also echoed Lacuna’s remarks, maintaining that the zoo remains an accessible tourist attraction.

“Hindi po kami papayag na mawala and Manila Zoo sa Manila. Hindi naman namin ito pinababayaan, alagang alaga po ito ng Lungsod ng Maynila (We will not allow Manila Zoo to be out of Manila. We will not neglect it, the City of Manila is taking care of it),” he added.

Manila 5th District Rep. Irwin Tieng (5th District), whose jurisdiction covers Malate where the zoo is located, acknowledged Senator Francis Tolentino for expressing his concern over the animals in the zoo.

He, however, said the city government has implemented a rehabilitation of the zoo’s features and facilities, including new enclosures for animals, a water filtration system, and a state-of-the-art sewerage treatment plant.

“Hindi rin namin gusto ‘yung maalis ang zoo dito kasi kasi hindi naman lahat ng tao may kapasidad na pumunta sa Masungi para tumingin ng mga animals. Kaya gusto namin dito pa rin ito sa Manila (We do not want the zoo to be out of the city because not everyone has the capacity to see the animals at Masungi, We want it to stay here in Manila),” the lawmaker added.

On Saturday, Tolentino proposed relocating Manila Zoo from Malate, Manila to Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal.

He said the animals in the six-hectare zoo are kept in small enclosures and are exposed to urban noise, heat, and pollution. (PNA)