Sunday, May 08, 2005

it's a jungle out there!

my memories of my first visit to the zoo were not that vivid. the only thing i can remember was the stench coming from the cages that, in my opinion, were too small for the animals.

that was a long, long time ago.

when i heard about Avilon Zoo, i could hardly contain my excitement. according to my friend, it was an amazing place that could give international zoos a run for their money. well, that was enough to convince me to go. all i had to do was convince my family as well...which, i realized, was not as hard as i thought it would be. so, last friday (May 6), we were off to the zoo!

Avilon Zoo is right in the heart of Rodriguez, Rizal (formerly Montalban, Rizal). you have to pass rough roads (good thing they had big signs to guide the visitors). it's a long drive but the 1.5 hours sitting on your bum is definitely worth it.

the zoo is open from 9 to 5 and holds tours every two hours (for 208 pesos. the 8 pesos is for the service charge). we took the last tour (3 pm) since it was way too hot to take the earlier ones. we were a few minutes late and had to catch up with the tour guide (oops!).

before we arrived, i already had a mental picture of the zoo. i imagined it to be like a local Jurassic Park (w/o the dinosaurs, of course). when we got there, i was right! the front gate was massive and i was half-expecting a bespectacled old man holding a cane (w/ an amber-preserved mosquito) to greet us. during the tour, i had to look behind my shoulder a few of times just to make sure i won't get pounced on by a couple of hungry velociraptors (a t-rex, i can handle. but raptors...i don't think so...)

WOW Philippines!

Avilon Zoo is definitely world-class.

i cannot remember the exact size of the zoo. but to give you an idea, the tour is really 2 hours (w/ a water/snack break of about 15 min).

everything was well thought of, from the size of the cages to the landscaping, how the animals were grouped, the path of the tour, down to the details of the cages, railing, and the plants that were used. my papa was practically salivating at the landscaping and design of the animals' homes. what looked like wood railing, fences, and posts were actually cement, molded and treated to look like logs. some of the pillars even had different leaf details (that looked like vines hugging the posts) carved into them.

i am amazed at how they managed to somehow preserve the natural habitat of the animals. the lion's den was huge. it actually looked like a slab of Simba's land, pulled out and transported into the zoo. and unlike the other wild cats' cages, the lion's area was open. i could jump into the water and join them while they were frolicking under the sun. of course, the designer took this into consideration and strategically placed a pond around the lion's sanctuary to keep those predators away from the visitors (actually, it could be the other way around....).

and there's more. the nocturnal animals were placed in caves to keep the sunlight away. the reptiles were placed in a covered (and a bit humid and damp) area. i was impressed at the size of the bird cages. they did not scrimp on those cages, believe me. they were tall enough to give the birds enough room to fly around. the cage that blew me away was the one for the biggest pigeons (sorry, can't recall what that specie is called). it was HUGE. you could fit a skyscraper in that thing (ok, so i'm exaggerating a bit). but you get the picture.

the flamingos' home looked like a tropical savannah. if they were pink, i would have thought i was in Florida. according to the tour guide, a flamingo's color is dependent on their diet. pink flamingos eat shrimp. so, since the flamingos in Avilon are white, they balls?

For the Birds

my second favorite part (read on to find out my first) of the tour was hanging out with the birds. the zoo has a wide collection of birds, exotic and the more common ones. during one part of the tour, the guide brought us to the spot where five birds were perched on the railing. yes, they were outdoors. they were tied to the logs but the caretaker can easily detach the chain and let them fly around. actually, two of them were released and came back after a bit of showing off. amazing!

these birds are pretty domesticated. they actually looked a bit bored from all the attention. Big Bird (the owl) even turned his back on us when we began crowding around him. although i did get a shot of him glancing behind his shoulder (probably to check if we were still there).

years ago, we had a pet hawk (si starsky...he died when our helper forgot to feed him while we were out of town for a few days). i think my papa got a bit sentimental when he saw the birds. while the rest of the visitors were trying to get a picture with Big Bird and Friends, he approached the lone eagle at the other end, took the leather gloves, and (forcefully) prodded it to stand on his arm. i had the sneaking suspicion he wanted to quietly tiptoe out of the zoo w/ the poor bird. tsk, tsk, tsk.

Born to be Wild

now this is my favorite part of the tour. the big cats!

the zoo has two adult tigers, two jaguars, and a mountain lion (also known as a puma or cougar). the tigers were a sight to behold. i swear, they are one of the most beautiful animals known to mankind. the other one was humongous. i could picture him bolting after a wildebeest in the plains of Africa. or lying splat on the floor in front of a....fireplace. (ahahaha!)

it was frustrating to take pictures of them, particularly those jaguars. if animals had human disorders, they definitely can be diagnosed with ADHD. i had a few decent shots of the cats. (i was even more frustrated when i got home because i realized i could have gotten better shots if i inserted the lens through the cage. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH! *bashes head on monitor*)

i was hoping the tiger would roar at me or something. even after my gentle coaxing...

me: hey, you. big guy. yes, you. let's hear you roar.
tiger: *blinks*

me: oy, i'm talking to you!
tiger: *gives a bored side glance*
me: hmp. you think you're all that. top of the food chain. hah. you're not that cool, you know. the lion is still the king! what do you say to that, huh? huh? HUH?
tiger: *inspects nails*
me: sure, try to look cool. that act doesn't fool me. well, i've got news for you. you may be a vicious carnivore but guess what? you're in there and i'm out here! nye-nye-nye-nye-nyeeeee!
tiger: *rolls eyes*
me: hey, hotshot. wanna piece of me? c'mon. show me what you've got. i go to the gym, you know. I KNOW TAE-BO! <HI-YAAAAH!>
tiger: *yawns*

i guess i wasn't that convicing.

Huling Hirit

i didn't even notice the time. we finally reached the end of the tour, after two whole hours of walking. whew.

i still had five shots in my camera so we decided to take advantage of the beautiful landscape and pose in front of it (so much for the nice view...)

after my camera finally rewinded and after we realized everybody left already (save for the staff), we headed home.

i'm so glad i went to the zoo again. at least i could replace my earlier memories with new and better ones. *happy sigh*

Avilon Zoo, I'LL BE BACK!!

and that pesky tiger better be ready for me!


i haven't scanned the pictures yet. soon to come!

uy, tina-pie, inggit ka na ba?? :p


ricababes said...

hay! ako inggit! :D we are also planning to go there...i'm not yet sure when kasi it is a bit far from molino ;D he he he

aby said...

a talaga? sige, sabihan mo ko kung kelan kayo pupunta. gusto ko sumabay para ma-picturan ko ulit nang maayos yung mga animals :D

tinatuna said...

oo nga, naiinggit ako. pag uwi ko, dapat bisitahin ko 'yun @$%&! na zoo na 'yun. sabayan mo din ako =D

ricababes said...

hmmm... si tinatuna ba ay aming si tina? :D nagtatanong lang po...

aby said...

tinatuna, kelan ka uuwi???? :)

tinatuna said...

July 7 po...tentative. yehey! malapit na akong pumuntang zooooooo!