THE former Cebu Zoo, which has been closed since 2016, will soon reopen as the “Cebu City Eco-Park,” housing a collection of plants and animals in the country.
Mayor Michael Rama led the ceremonial groundbreaking of the menagerie in Barangay Kalunasan on Thursday morning, Oct. 26, 2023.
The Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) has allocated a budget of P5 million to create a “community-mixed habitat” for wildlife animals, but the amount is insufficient. So the City continues to raise funds for its completion.
Lemuel Felisario, executive director of the Coastal Management Board and Cebu City Eco-Park, said the community-mixed habitat is a large enclosure where various wildlife animals could “coexist harmoniously.”
Felisario said the P5 million budget will be exclusively used to create five enclosures, each with a height of 24 feet and a total area of 50 to 100 square meters.
The Cebu City Eco-Park covers an area of up to seven hectares.
Among the planned structures for the community-mixed animal habitat are a crocodile pond, a hanging bridge leading visitors to the center of the park, an amphitheater, a bee farm, a butterfly sanctuary, and a water catchment.
Felisario also said they plan to create backyard gardens, featuring an aquaponics system within the facility for growing a variety of vegetables. Additionally, they intend to have livestock that will be fed organic feed.
Felisario said they plan to introduce giraffes, gorillas, and other wildlife animals, which may be sourced from Palawan, Batangas, and Mindanao.
Asked about the project’s timeline, Felisario was not able to provide a specific date, as he admitted it would depend on the funds and resources they can gather, both financially and in kind.
“We have acquired some budget, but it’s not sufficient. That’s the very reason why we are inviting the private sector to help and support us,” he said in a mix of English and Cebuano.
He said there are already pledges for wildlife animals, including five tigers, five lions, and crocodiles. However, they cannot take them in until the facility is rehabilitated.
He said they are eyeing a public-private partnership in having wildlife animals to promote shared responsibility, as well as cost-effectiveness in housing wildlife animals.
Memorandum of Agreement
Felisario said the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and the Cebu City Government signed a memorandum of agreement, permitting the latter to use the seven-hectare land exclusively for a zoo facility.
He said the Commission on Audit already visited the location last Wednesday, Oct. 25, for an audit of the entire facility.
In 2016, former mayor Tomas Osmeña ordered the closure of the Cebu Zoo in Barangay Kalunasan, in preparation for a land exchange deal with the Provincial Government.
The zoo was among the City’s identified properties to be swapped with Provincial Government lots in the city that were declared as socialized housing sites under Ordinance 931.
The wildlife animals from the city-operated zoo were donated to the Municipality of Amlan in Negros Oriental.