Isko plans to expand Arroceros Park, ‘rebrand’ Manila Zoo

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 2) — New Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso plans to expand Arroceros Park, the Philippine capital’s so-called last lung, and “rebrand” the city’s zoo.

Moreno reiterated to CNN Philippines Tuesday that he would not allow the sale of the 2.1-hectare Arroceros Park.

“In fact it’s the other way around, palalakihin pa namin ‘yung [we will expand] Arroceros Park in terms of land space,” he told The Source.

He added that this will be done “as soon as possible,” but did not give a definite timeline.

Aside from this, Moreno also plans to redevelop and “repackage” Manila Zoo, appealing to private individuals and organizations to help the city achieve this.

Naawa na po ako sa mga hayop doon. Eh kung ‘yung mga napa-plunder nakakapiyansa, nakakalabas silang pansamantala, ‘yung hayop namin doon, 40, 50 years na. Parang ang sakit naman noon kung kayo ang malagay sa katayuan noon,” he said.

[Translation: I pity the animals there. Even plunderers get to be freed on bail, but our animals [in the zoo] have been there for 40, 50 years. Wouldn't it be painful if you were put in their place?

However, Moreno refused to delve into the specifics of his vision.

“I don’t want to be ahead of myself. Ayokong mauna ang kalesa ang kabayo [I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.] I don’t want to add restraints because of a band aid solution that I will offer,” he said.

The Manila mayor said he would rather tackle issues facing the city one at a time.

Former Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada Arroceros Park was looking to convert Arroceros Park into a gymnasium, which faced opposition from environmental groups.

A third of the trees at the park had already been uprooted to give way for the office of the Manila division of the Department of Education, constructed during the administration of former Mayor Lito Atienza.

Meanwhile, the 60-year-old Manila Zoo has remained closed since January over sewage problems.