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Thursday, January 24, 2019

‘Draw up plans for zoo, animals before closure’

CEBU City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella wants the executive department to submit to the City Council a closure plan for the Cebu City Zoo, to include plans for the hundreds of animals in the facility.

He also wants the executive department to look into laws pertaining to the establishment of an aviary at the Compania Maritima that will house the birds from the zoo, as proposed by the mayor.

In an interview yesterday, Labella said he won’t say he is in favor of or against Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s plan to shut down the zoo, but the welfare of the animals should always be considered.

“If there is really an intention to close the zoo, we just want to be apprised by looking at the closure study. So I would request the executive to give us the closure plan and we will discuss it with the members of the City Council,” he said.

Labella said the closure plan should include, among other things, how the facility will be closed, what will happen to the animals and where the City will bring them.

Osmeña earlier said that except for the birds, all the other animals will be donated to the Muncipality of Amlan, which is planning to expand their zoo.

The mayor said, though, that he still has to convince the Council to do so.

Labella said the donation of the animals needs to be approved by the Council.

The vice mayor disclosed that officials of Amlan headed by Mayor Gino dela Cruz already paid him a visit last Monday to discuss the matter. Before their meeting, the officials from Amlan also met with Osmeña.

Osmeña informed dela Cruz that he will talk with the councilors about the plan first.

While the zoo is not yet closed, Labella is asking the executive department to take care of the animals after reports surfaced that some of them already died.

The vice mayor said the problem with manpower should be addressed after the services of some 20 zoo personnel were terminated.

Labella said he is happy that the mayor assigned Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries chief Dr. Alice Utlang to be the temporary zoo administrator.

“I know her. She is very competent and honest. I hope that her presence there would improve the condition of the animals inside the zoo,” he said.

Labella added that there is a need to hire additional trained personnel for the city zoo.

As for the plan to establish an aviary at the Compania Maritima, Labella said the law governing aviaries must be checked first.

“If there’s a plan to place them (birds) near the seafront, will this be allowed to at least simulate the natural habitat of the birds, to mitigate the sufferings of being placed inside cages? As far as I know, they should be quite far from urban centers,” he said.

Asked about the plan to include the zoo in the land swap deal to solve the long-running issue about 93-1 lots, Labella said it also needs to be studied.

He recalled that the Cebu Province donated the seven-hectare property where the zoo stands to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines to be used as a camp site then. He said the donation is still in effect.

Labella begged off from commenting further about the matter, saying the issue has some legal implications.
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