Sharing Christmas joy to the Aeta communities
By Nico Erle Ciriaco
“The Earth was not given to you. It was loaned to you by your
- Kenyan proverb -
Did you know that lovebirds adore sneakers with seed-colored laces? They mistake it as feed because they bear the same color as the ones given to them by zoo visitors. I chanced upon this discovery on a recent visit to the Zoocobia Park in Clark Pampanga over the weekend.
The Zoomanity Group (ZG) gives back its manifold blessings to the children of the immediate communities where their parks are situated through its yearly “Open Heart, Open Park” project. The first of its four properties to extend the Yuletide cheer is its sprawling 50-hectare estate Zoocobia in Clark’s economic zone.
“Christmas is for children. We dedicate this season to them. We are closing the entire facility for the enjoyment of the kids from the Aetas community residing around the arcade’s vicinity. Indigenous people are very helpful. We gather them in groups ‘coz too many can become disorganized,” quoted Robert L. Yupangco, CEO of the Zoomanity Group, who was celebrating his natal anniversary on the occasion of the gift giving activities; his birthdate falling exactly on the 12th day before Christmas.
Promoting their 4E (education, environmental conservation, exhibition, and entertainment) advocacy, the company believes that it is part of its corporate value to give delight to those kids who need it the most. Through its annual Christmas gift-giving project, the ZG chose sets of orphaned kids from different foundations to experience an entire day of fun, love and care in their parks. “Residence Inn started the mini-zoo concept after raising a tiger in our Bel-Air residence from an African national who got deported. While the cub regaled the kids in the neighborhood, it also alarmed residents that it may cause harm to their children. So we had to move it to our property in Tagaytay. And the rest, they say, is history. It just grew and grew from there.”
This Yuletide season, over 500 children got the chance to have free access in all the Zoomanity Parks and enjoy an exciting day of interaction with the animals. Different gift-giving activities were undertaken, together with interesting animal shows at the Zoocobia Fun Zoo (Clark, Pampanga), Zoobic Safari (SBMA, Olongapo Freeport Zone), Paradizoo (Mendez, Cavite), and Residence Inn (Tagaytay City). “Our shows display animal intelligence. They can do certain things that we humans can’t, and vice versa.
The Aetas’ ethnicity brings the safari feel a notch higher.”
During the Zoobic Safari tour, the children also got the chance to be the first to experience a sneak preview of Kamikazoo, the newest and only zip-line ride with the tigers in this side of the world. This new, heart-stopping attraction will be launched on the first quarter of 2015.
With a capacity of eight persons per trip, passengers will ride a capsule of welded wire where chickens are attached to it. The 120-meter long ride will then go to the tiger sanctuary. From a height of ten meters, the capsule drops down to about 27 feet above ground where the tigers eagerly await to get the chickens around the capsule; much like the bus ride to the tiger corral on the ground, but this time with the passengers suspended on air. This is the most adrenalized zoom drop into the tiger sanctuary that will test anyone’s bravery and adventurous spirit!
“Other plans in the pipeline include our procurement of trailer vans so we can create trailer parks for long-staying guests just like the trailer parks in the US. And we will be having camel rides soon. The lahar sand that flooded the area has created a desert-sand habitat where our camels thrive. Half of our animal inventory has been imported, like our albino-bred white lions. Another of our imports is the fiber grass from Brazil that grows profusely around the entire estate. These grasses have a 10-foot root base. The animals graze only the top weeds but leave the roots intact, which will take care of controlling erosion and hold the soil together.
“We also grow the ashitaba shrub from Japan. After the atomic bombed was dropped in Kyushu during World War II, this was the only vegetation that grew after the bombings. Those who were exposed to radiation started eating this and got better.
“Our integrated farming techniques will give us animal dung which we will mix with dried leaves from the fruit trees, rice bran, and molasses that we will use to fertilize the fruit-bearing trees. Our rabbits breed 30 babies each year. We give out these babies to our visitors who complete their stamp-cards during their visits. This way, we encourage the young to be animal lovers. It’s also habit forming and will eventually raise the awareness level for environmental conservation.”
Everyone is enjoined to help spread and continue this wonder-filled annual activity in all Zoomanity parks where happiness truly begins. “In the times when the lean season unfolds, the grass as well as the fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and grazing animals still continue to grow and bear fruit. Produce is still harvested therefore there’s still income for everyone. Livestock plus flowers plus veggies equals the power of three. Another form of employment will be generated from specially-bred cows raised by our neighbors in the immediate communities where we are. There will be no middlemen, farmers earn better, thus the cost of our arcade entrance will remain lower compared to others.
“Zoocobia, with the help of the academe and government agencies, will become a model farm for mangoes to help the local farmers in the community earn sustained income. The produce from mango farms around us will be purchased directly by us for use in our kitchens, cutting off the middleman that raises the prices. So we keep the costs low for affordability. If the Western World has orange and apple picking, we will also have mango picking wherein a single tree can yield six different varieties that’s achieved through a technological transfer known as asexual propagation and aerial grafting,” Yupangco said in closing.
The Zoomanity Group parks attract close to 2-million visitors annually, and the numbers are steadily rising. For more information, simply call 899-9595 local 344, 899-9824, 847-0413; email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or visit the company Web site, www.zoomanity.com.ph.