By Karl Aries Emerson F. Cabilao, UAP
MY last visit to the Cebu Zoo was back to when we were little kids. It was during the Holy Week, when my my Dad, siblings, some cousins and I went around the city to look for a place to eat. Most restaurants were closed at that time and surprisingly it led us to the area near the zoo.
“Let’s take a look at what’s inside,” we thought since we were already there. At a very minimal fee, we got in. We could still remember seeing birds, snakes and a lion named “So-Boy” seemingly taking their own reflective Holy Week break inside their cages. It was a relaxing experience with nature as our backdrop.
Having been to the Manila Zoo before, I thought the Cebu Zoo back then could get more animals to make it more attractive to visitors. However, fast forward to the present, it is unfortunate to know that the fate of our very own zoo here hangs in a balance with its proposed closure by the city government. This is said to be in preparation for a land swap deal with the province, according to a news report. Around 270 animals from the zoo are considered for donation to Amlan in Negros Oriental, where a zoo is being planned.
This is an issue that drew mixed reactions among Cebuanos. Its closure would mean saying good bye to a sanctuary of wildlife, which would have been made more educational with proper planning and upkeep. Imagine with an appropriate budget, the zoo could bring in more wild animals and probably designed in a way where animals could feel at home just like their natural habitat and add itself to the interesting attractions in the city. It is also a green open space which our cities badly need these days.
But on the other side, saying good bye to the zoo would hopefully pave the way for more beneficial use of the land. So, we ask this question: “Does Cebu need a zoo?” Here are the responses of some readers:
“Yes because it is where families bond and spend their weekends. To add more attractions in the city, and kids will enjoy and have fun at the same time, it is very educational for kids because they will see different kinds of animals rather than seeing them in books.” — Sam Jordan Hermosa, customer account executive
“Yes, Cebu needs a well-maintained zoo so that our children can have a place to go to during the weekends apart from just the malls. We need more places where children can be exposed to nature. A zoo with a park will be nice.” — Dulce Sia, financial comptroller
“I think Cebu doesn’t need a zoo. For me, a zoo needs a huge investment for it to be one of quality. There are far more important basic things that Cebu needs and one of those is a decent park.” — Nikki Rose Damalerio-Chongco, architect
“There is a clear disconnect between today’s generation with nature. Having a facility like a zoo in our city bridges this gap and creates awareness and appreciation of nature’s wonders. I think this is essential to both the Cebuanos and nature and it helps ensure a meaningful co-existence between them.” — Joshua Tabasuarez, architect/college instructor