THE ‘Bagong Manila Zoo’ that will rise next year will be the best zoo in Asia.
Thus vowed Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, as he and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna led yesterday’s ground-breaking ceremony for the redevelopment of the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden or Manila Zoo in Malate, Manila.
In the event which was also attended by city engineer Armand Andres, zoo director Pio Morabe and Councilor Timothy Oliver ‘Tol’ Zarcal, among others, Moreno said the new zoo which is expected to be finished by next year, will compete with the best in the world, marked by clean surroundings and a healthy environment for the animals housed there.
He noted that when it was established 61 years ago, the Manila Zoo was the first in Asia, just like Manila is the first to have a free tertiary education and the first to have its own public hospitals.
Moreno lamented that the once reputable Manila Zoo ended up being a main polluter of the Manila Bay, so that when he assumed office as the new mayor, he decided to shut it down until it is fully compliant with the national government regulations.
For her part, Vice Mayor Lacuna said yesterday’s ceremony solidly belies rumors that the city government is planning to sell the zoo, as much as there are rumors that the forest park of the city in Arroceros was also up for sale.
Lacuna cited Moreno as a deeply dedicated public servant who now serves as an inspiration to his fellow city officials and other local leaders as well.
The vice mayor also recounted her childhool days when her parents would bring them to the Manila Zoo and the adjacent Paraiso ng Batang Maynila which is a full playground, to which Moreno responded: “Masuwerte kayo nakita nyo ang Manila Zoo kagaya ng kwento ni Vice Mayor nung bata pa siya. Ako sa pahina lang ng libro sa loob ng paaralan.”
He also confirmed the pronouncements made by Lacuna that the current city administration never entertained the idea of selling the zoo like the previous administration did.
“Hindi natin ibebenta and Manila Zoo. Hindi lang ito pinagplanuhan, talagang binalak ibenta dati, pati Paraiso ng Batang Maynila, sad to say. But, maraming salamat sa inyo, mga taga-lungsod at binigyan ninyo ako ng pagkakataon. ‘Yung commitment namin ay nakikita ninyo ngayong araw na ito.”