Lucas loves animals.
One year, for Oneal’s birthday, we went to Manila Ocean Park. We had long wanted to go to Avilon Zoo, but the pandemic happened. This year, we finally decided to go for it.
Oh boy, it was so much fun!
But first: Animal captivity and cruelty
I know there are people who feel that animals shouldn’t be in zoos or captivity and all. I fully understand that animals deserve to remain in their own habitat, free of human intervention, free to roam and eat and reproduce as they see fit.
Unfortunately, with human growth and development, the places where many creatures live are becoming uninhabitable, and it’s a sad truth that zoos are among the few places where they may be safe. But I know that many animals in captivity are treated cruelly, and do not live in conditions suited to their growth and development.
Happy, healthy animals
We were so happy to find that the animals at Avilon Zoo looked quite healthy. Their enclosures seemed spacious enough, and they looked well-fed. There was a veterinary school on the premises too, and breeding programs for some of the animals, so we could only surmise that they were well cared for.
We saw a lovely variety of animals all over the property, from different kinds of crocodiles and caimans to large enclosures of beautiful birds and lush aquariums full of turtles. We saw ostriches and emu, goats and iguanas, snakes and monkeys.
Some practical concerns for visiting Avilon Zoo
Avilon Zoo is open daily–including holidays–from 8:00 a.m. to 5: 00 p.m.
Tickets are cheaper online. The regular rate is Php 800.00 per person, but if you buy online, it only costs Php 600. For children below 3 feet, it’s Php 600.00. Children aged 12 months and below can enter free of charge.
Get comfy. The entire zoo and its facilities sit on a large tract of land, about 7.5 hectares. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, maybe a hat and sunglasses, and bring a fan and a change of clothes.
Set aside a whole day. The property is so vast, and there are so many animals to see.
Bring cash. You can pay for tickets using Gcash or a credit card, but at some points around the zoo you can feed the animals. Some of these stations accept GCash, but not all of them do, if I remember correctly.
Yes, you can feed the animals! I think we spent about Php 1,000 total on various animal feeds. For Php 50, you get raw chicken heads to feed the arapaima, a rather large and terrifying fish you meet soon after you enter the zoo. Php 100 gets you a bowl of vegetables for the giraffes. We spent about Php 400 at this one station where you could feed all the animals: binturong (also known as bearcat), a wild boar, rabbits, hamsters, goats, peacocks, iguanas. For a fee, we took pictures with the large parrots too. It was so much fun for Lucas, especially since the giraffe, Bhari, was so friendly, licking his hands and nudging with his nose.
There are many bathrooms and benches. You don’t need to worry about running from one end of the zoo to another if you really need to pee, and if you’re tired you can rest.
There are some food stalls at the zoo. The prices and serving sizes are reasonable. Don’t expect anything fancy. There are rice meals, some drinks, some snacks.
Follow the arrow. You could probably wander around on your own, but you could also follow the numbered path to make sure you see all the animals.
If you can, go on a weekday. I think we went there on a Monday, or was it a Tuesday? Aside from us, there were only two other groups of visitors, and so we didn’t have to line up for anything. The zoo staff were quite accommodating. When we got to the section with all the turtles, one of the staff was feeding them, and Lucas asked if he could feed them. Not only did the caretaker give him a bunch of kangkong to feed the turtles, but he also opened up the gate so Lucas could come closer!
Giraffes are the best
But the real reason we went to Avilon Zoo was the giraffes. We were so lucky that we went in May, because in April, the giraffes had a baby!
Lucas was so happy, because the male giraffe, Bhari, was so friendly. He kept coming in for food, and nuzzling us with his giant nose. His horns bumped me a few times. Lucas tried to hug him, and he was so excited that before we left the zoo, we went back to the giraffes to feed them again.
Honestly, for the giraffe experience, it was all worth it.