Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso assured the public that the Manila Zoo in Malate, Manila will vie with those of other Southeast Asian countries during the zoo’s 61’s anniversary, Saturday (July 25).

The local government recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for its restoration during the Manila Zoo’s anniversary, which was led by Mayor Isko.

“What we are going to build in the near future: The best zoo in Asia. We will compete with them,” Moreno said, as he stressed that the Manila zoo was in fact, the first zoo in the Philippines and Asia.

In January 2019 under former mayor Joseph Estrada, the 5.5-hectare Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden was closed “until further notice” to conduct a proper assessment and study of its rehabilitation.

But it was only this year when Domagosa gave the green light for work to start on its restoration. He said the redevelopment and rehabilitation of Manila Zoo is part of his administration’s agenda to boost the city’s economy in the long run.

“Kaya hindi ko po talagang binuksan ang Manila Zoo [noon ay dahil] hindi pa tay na[kakapag]co-comply sa mga alituntunin na ipinapatupad ng ahensya ng pamahalaan,” he said.

In an interview with Manila Bulletin, Alipio Morabe Jr., director of the city’s public recreation bureau, explained some of the changes Manila Zoo will undergo.

“For example, we’re cleaning our lagoon so we can put filtration at its lowest point,” Morabe said in Filipino. “And within the lagoon itself, we will have a 30-foot waterfall. Perhaps we will also put fish and boats.”

Morabe added that the enclosure of Mali, the famous 47-year-old female elephant at the zoo, will be expanded to house more animals, including hippopotamuses.

Aside from that, they are looking forward to put hyenas and baboons in the zoo. Morabe said they are also thinking of building a coffee shop inside the zoo, so visitors may watch the animals in comfort.

“We will meet the standards set by the South East Asian Zoos Association (SEAZA),” he said, noting that they have already consulted with experts. He said it will take at least a year and a half to complete the zoo’s restoration.

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