I ONLY went to the Cebu City Zoo in Barangay Kalunasan once. I think. And that was a long, long, long time ago.

I remember looking down at a tiny enclosure that had a concrete pen with a few inches of water and a lonesome crocodile lying next to it. There was a monkey, too, I'm sure of that. Its leg was chained to a pole. It was a pretty long chain because it enabled the monkey to pace back and forth on its perch. There might have also been a hornbill, or kalaw, and some love birds inside cages. Other than that, the memory's kind of hazy.

I don't even think it was a school trip. I may have been with my titos and titas as a side trip before heading to the swimming pool at the Camp Marina on a weekend when my father would drop me off at my grandma's house on Urgello St.

Come to think of it, I'm not even sure if the pool was at the marina. After all, we're talking about ehem-ehem years ago.

Since then, I've been to several zoos abroad. And they are impressive, to say the least.

At the 26-hectare Singapore Zoo, more than 2,800 animals representing over 300 species of mammals, birds and reptiles roam freely in open and naturalistic habitats.

I know, it's not fair to compare our zoo with that of Singapore's because there is no comparison, but the Cebu City Zoo is from a bygone era, an anachronism.

According to the Cebu Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Office, the zoo has about 270 animals.

If members of animal rights groups see their condition, they would be appalled. Or so I was told.

Majority of the animals are reportedly in a pitiable state since Mayor Tomas Osmeña didn't renew the contracts of all but four of the facility's 28 personnel last Aug. 31.

So perhaps they're better off if Mayor Tomas Osmeña pushes through with his plan to close the City-run facility. The mayor wants to include the property in a land swap with the Provincial Government.

Most of the animals will be donated to the Municipality of Amlan in Negros Oriental. Its mayor has asked for them since he plans to open a zoo.

Osmeña, though, will keep the birds. Our feathered friends will not be leaving Cebu. Apparently, the mayor likes birds. So much so that he wants to place them inside the Compaña Maritima, which is a stone's throw away from the City Hall, and convert the abandoned building into an aviary.

But before he gets his way, the executive department must submit a closure plan for the Cebu City Zoo to the City Council.

According to Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, the plan will outline, among others, what will happen to the animals.

In the meantime, he is requesting the mayor's office not to neglect them. As for the birds, he said the Aviary Law prohibits putting them near the seafront or in an urban area.

Regardless of what happens, one thing is certain, the Cebu City Zoo cannot exist in its current state.