If you’re in the Metro Manila area and you want to go to a zoo that’s newer than Manila Zoo and bigger than Malabon Zoo, you should try Avilon Zoo. This 7.5 hectare zoo is found in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) in Rizal and is less than an hour away from most parts of Quezon City. Avilon Zoo first opened in 2003 and currently boasts of over 3,000 animals representing 350 species according to their official website.
(The website is on a free hosting domain—they spent millions developing a zoo but they don’t want to spend on their website? Bad marketing.) Update: they now have a proper website on their own domain. Yay!
Anyway, the entrance fee is 208 pesos per head and is free for children 1 year old and younger. Senior citizen discounts are also available. If you want, you can either go around the zoo on your own, or you may avail of the paid tours (P350 for a whole group of around 20) conducted by professional tour guides who are trained all about the zoo and the resident fauna. Tours start every hour and last about two hours. You can bring food, but eating is not allowed during the tour. There’s a “pit stop” halfway through the tour, in the zoo’s pavilion, where you can eat and rest for a while (there’s a lot of walking involved). Picture taking is highly encouraged.
Photo by JM Abania.
Avilon Zoo is owned by the husband and wife team, Jake and Teena Gaw. From the feature article about the zoo in Manila Bulletin, we learn that Avilon Zoo started out mostly as a hobby by Jake—he loved collecting animals. Their White Plains home in Quezon City turned out to be too small to house their menagerie (including a lion!) and so they bought property in Rizal. Eight years of construction and further animal acquisitions later, the Gaws finally opened the park to the general public.
Among the animals you can see there are swans, lions, tigers, kangaroos, crocodiles, eagles, hawks, flamingos, ostriches, lizards, jaguars, monkeys, tarsiers, and hundreds and hundreds of fish. One nice thing about the zoo is that the animals are in their “natural habitat.” Avilon Zoo reportedly has the distinction of being the first zoo to breed Gray’s Monitor lizards, not yet an endangered species, but is listed as vulnerable.
I first heard about the park when I watched a feature on it on Net 25 about 2 years ago. My sister has already been there and she said it was great.
To learn more about the zoo and to see more pictures, a Google search always helps.