Manila Zoo official rebuts PETA’s animal maltreatment claims

(SPOT.ph) The Public Recreation Bureau (PRB) of Manila has denied allegations that the animals in the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden (Manila Zoo) are not taken care of properly, reports Manila Bulletin. The PRB is reacting to maltreatment accusations made by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) after photos of gaunt and wounded zoo animals in dirty and cramped spaces circulated online last week.

 

PRB director Deogracias Manimbo said that the photos, which were taken in 2008, were outdated and did not represent the entire zoo. "Hindi ibig sabihin na pag may nakitang bottled water sa isang cage, lahat na ng cages namin, madumi (It doesn't follow that when one finds a water bottle in one cage, all the cages are dirty)," he said, adding that they are considering measures to limit littering.

 

Manimbo also refuted PETA's claim that the animals are experiencing zoochosis or the development of unnatural behaviors due to being held in artificial environments. "These animals will actually feel unfit if they are released in the wild because they are already used to being fed for a very long time now," he said.

 

He also noted that since the zoo animals were living past their life expectancy, it was implausible that they were underfed and unhealthy. He cited as examples the 48-year-old hippo Berta and the 34-year old elephant Mali. According to Manimbo, hippos are expected to live up to 35 years while elephants have a normal lifespan of 30 years. Correcting rumors that Mali is fed only one loaf of bread a day, Manimbo said: "We feed Mali 25 loaves a day, along with some potatoes. We ensure that the animals here have a balanced diet," he said, adding that the zoo has five in-house veterinarians who specialize in wildlife.

 

Manimbo, however, admitted that the zoo needs to improve its upkeep. Though there are no new attractions, the PRB has succeeded in restoring 70 percent of the zoo. "If we have to be at par with other zoos, we need more funds," he said, adding that the zoo needs P50 million every year.

 

For more on this story, log on to Manila Bulletin.

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