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We need help, not criticism, Manila Zoo director tells PETA

By: - Reporter / @jgamilINQ
/ 11:21 PM July 17, 2011

The Manila Zoo director has criticized a group that has been asking the public to sign an online petition for the city government to shut down the attraction.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other local animal protection groups, the zoo is a “tiny, decrepit and outdated facility.”

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“Animals… are housed in cramped, barren cages that can’t compare to their natural habitats,” PETA said in its petition.

It asked netizens to sign the petition asking Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim to stop plans to acquire more animals for the facility. “Instead, ask him to improve the lives of the animals already there or, better yet, close the zoo altogether,” the group said.

Manila Parks and Recreation Bureau chief and zoo director Deogracias Manimbo, however, said the petition and criticisms were being “played up.” He explained that while there were indeed plans to add more animals to the zoo like a giraffe, the city government doesn’t have the funds to do so right now.

“The mayor’s priority is education and health,” Manimbo said.

Manimbo added that instead of criticizing the zoo, animal protection groups should pitch in by donating money so that they could improve the animals’ living conditions.

The zoo operates on a P50-million budget annually, Manimbo said in an interview. Around P40 million of the total is spent on the animals’ food and upkeep alone. The rest is used to pay for utilities. “It’s all maintenance funds. We don’t have development funds,” Manimbo pointed out.

However, he reported that they rehabilitated a portion of the attraction last year, thanks to donations from private entities.

While admitting that some animals such as monkeys were indeed placed in concrete cages with steel bars, Manimbo said that their enclosures were always kept clean and that animals in the zoo had even exceeded their life expectancies. Sisi, the zoo’s lone orang-utan, which recently passed away, was 38 years old. An orangutan usually has a life expentancy of 35 years, Manimbo pointed out.

Manimbo also claimed that PETA had used outdated photos to show the alleged dismal conditions at the zoo.

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TAGS: Animals, local government, Manila Zoo, PETA, Philippines – Metro
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