A Day At The Zoo

Sugbongcogon, Misamis Oriental, Philippines

The start of this summer’s escapades took my friends and I to the eastern side of Misamis Oriental. We all wanted a budget friendly and fun trip to some place where we can manage to get back home to the city within the day. Going to Iligan City, which is like an hour away from Cagayan de Oro, was one of the options. But going there required a proper planning session (especially with the itinerary because there’s quite a lot of places to go and things to do there) and we didn’t have time for that. So I suggested Mantianak Botanical Garden & Zoological Park (or commonly known as just Mantianak Zoo) and they went on board with it. We bought our lunch and then went there last Wednesday.

The zoo is located in the Municipality of Sugbongcogon, Misamis Oriental. It’s the 8th municipality before one reaches Balingoan. Most people are more familiar with Balingoan because it’s where the port to Camiguin Island is located. From the East Bound Terminal in Agora, CDO, it took us almost two hours to reach the place because of the traffic in the city. It’s not hard to locate the zoo because it’s situated near the national highway, so you can easily see the sign board on the left side (if you’re going from the city to Sugbongcogon). We rode a yellow airconditioned bus bound for Butuan, and paid 118 pesos as SP and 145 pesos as regular fare. 
We arrived in the zoo during lunch time, but before we ate our sandwiches and chips (aka the "scrimp lunch”) we took pictures of the different birds first. 

There were a lot of birds, and I mean A LOT. They have African Grey Parrots, Sulfur Crested Cockatoos, Palawan Hill Mynahs (who says Pangit! and Gwapa ka? over and over), Chattering Lory, and Sun Conures, to name a few. Not to mention they have different types of doves that you can feed. We fed them several times and some of them landed on our arms, on our backs, and even our heads. 
Aside from their wide variety of birds, they also have a pair of squirrels. It amazed me because it was my first time to actually see them running around their cages and making squeaky sounds. 

The zoo is spacious enough for educational trips, and for family or barkada outings. They have tables and chairs placed under the shade of big trees. Some even have its own big umbrellas. Though the place sell snacks and ice cream near the zoo’s office, people can still bring their own food and they don’t charge a corkage fee. The zoo also has several rooms available for overnight stays. 
According to CDODev, it is managed and maintained by the municipal government. A 100 peso fee for adults and 50 pesos for children is collected upon entering. 

The highlight of the trip is seeing five adult and one baby Bengal Tigers. The adult ones were doing their thing (i.e, sleeping), while the baby one was only shown to us for a few minutes since it was very aggressive. 
It was cool seeing tigers for the first time, but something about the experience made me think about how they must feel if they knew how to feel and how to express it. I mean, they were kept in cages for probably all their lives. If only they knew how to speak, they’d be like “Aww man this is so boring. I want to go to the wild!” or something. It’s a bit sad if you think about it long enough. 
The zookeeper that I got to talk to said that the offsprings of the tigers that they have now are bought and shipped to Cebu and Manila. For what reasons? Well... that I didn’t bother to ask. 

In totality, the whole trip was fun despite a few kinks here and there (i.e, wrong information about the entrance fee and fare haha it was my honest mistake!). I especially enjoyed the tour and the dove feeding part. A friend of mine who went with us made a cool video of the trip and you can watch it here: 

If you’re heading to other popular tourist destination in the eastern side of Misamis Oriental, why not squeeze in some time to do a side trip in Mantianak Zoo? :) 

Now, I know that some people don’t agree with the entire idea of a zoo, because these animals are supposedly out there living free in the wild. I get that and I respect that. I also know and understand that this zoo is established with the purpose of educating people, especially children, and to help the municipal government in attracting more tourists. Sugbongcogon isn’t much of a well-known place. It’s a town that you need to pass by when you’re on your way to more popular places such as Camiguin or Surigao. 
Honestly, though I had a grand time seeing these animals (and some even for the first time), I also thought about the entire experience in the POV of those who don’t agree with the idea of zoos. I wondered about the animals’ well-being, and that if they could speak, they could’ve told everyone who looked at them to let them out. 

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