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Philippines: Uproar over Sorry State of Manila Zoo

The sorry state of Manila Zoo caused a stir among Filipino netizens after photos were posted online, resulting in the rise of the keywords “Manila Zoo” as a popular trending topic on Twitter last month.

It all began last July 12 when Nix de Pano posted circa 2008-2010 photos of sickly animals and poorly kept pens of Manila Zoo in her Livejournal blog. The next day, de Pano’s friend Karen Ang reposted some of the pictures in The Pro-Pinoy Project site:

Soon enough, the issue spread worldwide on Twitter. The keywords “Manila Zoo” became a popular trending topic while the photo post gained over a thousand retweets and reposts. It also caught the attention of some celebrities and mainstream media.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has also initiated an online petition calling on Manila City Mayor Alfredo Lim to stop plans to get more animals for the zoo. They are demanding for the improvement of the animals’ welfare and ultimately, the closing of the zoo:

The giraffes, horses, turtles, crocodiles, rabbits, and deer who live at the Manila Zoo are crammed into extremely crowded cages. Sisi, an orangutan who lives all by herself, has only enough room in her cage to stretch out her arms. Mali, an isolated elephant, is housed alone in a concrete pen, and the tigers, who love to swim, are provided nothing more than a puddle.

Blogger Faith Salazar meanwhile calls on volunteers to help maintain the zoo and sign up for the Friends of Manila Zoo.

Obviously, Manila Zoo needs a lot of improvement. First of all, it’s undermanned. It needs people who will pass on their love for animals to children and their parents, no matter how hard it is to help them understand. People who have been feeding the animals unknowingly contribute to the degradation of the animals’ health. Plastic, popsicles and other harmful objects get ingested by animals – in fact, two giraffes have died, one of their four stomachs filled with plastic.

Both Ang and de Pano visited the Manila Zoo within the week after first raising concern over the plight of its animals. The two have noted marked improvements in contrast to the zoo conditions shown in the two-year old photos. The lack of sufficient financial support from government, however, continues to make life difficult for both the zoo animals and their overseers.

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