Manila Zoo temporarily closed for sewer line construction

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 23) — The Manila Zoo will be temporarily closed to the public pending improvements in line with the upcoming rehabilitation of the Manila Bay.

The 60-year-old zoo will be shuttered "until further notice," according to signs taped on its front gates.

It was once a world-class facility, but the zoo's administration admitted management had trouble keeping it in shape throughout the years.

Manila City Hall Administrator Ericson Alcovendaz on Tuesday said Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada issued the order to give way for the construction of sewer lines for zoo waste. He said it will be closed until the construction is finished.

The city government has jurisdiction over the facility.

It will take around four months to connect the zoo to the sewerage system.

At recent inspection, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the zoo partially contributes to the bay's pollution through liquid wastes being discharged into a tributary — the Estero de San Antonio Abad.

The upgrades will include connecting all restrooms to the sewer lines of water concessionaire, Maynilad, the construction of all septic tanks, and — if needed — a sewage treatment plant.

Rogelio Legaspi, Manila City engineer, said they have already asked for Maynilad's help in the rehabilitation.

"Sa'n nearest available site na pwede magconnect ng CR (comfort room) then drainage lines, surface rain water will be collected na hindi sasama sakaling gawan ng treatment plant," he said.

[Translation: Where the nearest available site where we can connect CRs, then drainage lines, surface water will be collected separately should a treatment plant be built.]

City Administrator Ericson Alcovendaz added,"Kasi maraming kabataan nagtutungo dyan lakbay aral... Para di maabala, para rin makacomply tayo sa ipinag-utos ng DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) na gawin natin ito."

[Translation: A lot of children go there for fieldtrips... So there won't be a bother, and so we can comply with the DENR's order to do this.]

The local government said it is also studying the possibility of moving the animals who live in the zoo without causing them distress.

"Rest assured, as much as possible i-try namin ma-minimize ang stress ng hayop na madudulot ng construction. Kung ilalabas mas stressful kasi ang hayop 'pag 'di binibigyan ng pampatulog, sedatives," said Jas Garcia, officer in charge of the city's Public Recreations Bureau.

[Translation: Rest assured, as much as possible we will try to minimize the stress animals will feel because of the construction. It will be more stressful for them if they are taken out and then transferred with no sleeping aids or sedatives.]

Concessionaires will not be charged by the zoo during the closure, but they will have to clarify the issue of vouchers for attractions which were booked online.