There are other animals, aside from Maali, the famous 38-year old Asian elephant, that currently reside at the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden or the Manila Zoo. It also has Bertha the hippopotamus, some tigers, reptiles and many others. But I must confess that I recently visited this zoo just for Maali, which gained considerable media coverage these days. The PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and various concerned parties have lamented that she has suffered enough isolation and neglect at her tiny enclosure. They want her to be transported to an elephant sanctuary elsewhere.
When I finally saw Maali, I asked myself the following: Does she looked tired? Maybe she needs a friend? How does she deal with all the attention? I could only wish that Maali answered my questions that day.
But I do remember an interesting conversation I had with a zoo caretaker back in Cebu many years ago. He said that we should be careful in describing animal behavior using human emotions because they possess instincts that are primarily different from ours. He added that even if the animals are caged, all they need are the right combinations of stimulus to survive or to propagate or to live a good life.
A vendor selling animal hats and other small souvenirs interrupted my train of thought. I then moved away from Maali's playground to see the other animals on display.
|L-R: Palawan Bearcat, Tamaraw and the Blue-naped Parrot. I am not actually sure if what I saw on the aviary was in fact the latter. It was the only one that resembled the picture on the name card.|
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