LOOK: Manila Zoo closed 'until further notice'

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Zoo was officially closed to the public on Wednesday, January 23, in line with government efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said in a memorandum that he ordered the closure of the zoo after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) tagged it as a “major pollutant of Manila Bay” as it was found dumping untreated sewage into an estuary that empties into the bay.

He issued the temporary closure order in a January 21 memorandum addressed to Manila Zoo Administrator Jasyrr Garcia, City Engineer Rogelio Legaspi, and other city officials.

During its closure, the city government will work on the installation of water treatment facilities or sewerage treatment plants for Manila Zoo and other city facilities, Estrada said.

FAMOUS RESIDENT. Mali, a 43-year-old Asian elephant which started living in Manila Zoo at age 3, is fed by a zoo employee without the usual gawkers on January 23, 2019. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

FAMOUS RESIDENT. Mali, a 43-year-old Asian elephant which started living in Manila Zoo at age 3, is fed by a zoo employee without the usual gawkers on January 23, 2019.

Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

Animal rights advocates have long called for the permanent closure of the Manila Zoo, citing its inadequate facilities for the proper treatment of animals.

It was home to Bertha – believed to be the world’s oldest hippopotamus – until her death at age 65 in 2017.

The zoo’s most famous resident is Mali, a 43-year-old elephant which had been the subject of a campaign alleging animal cruelty. The campaign to free the Asian elephant, a zoo resident since age 3, had drawn support from Philippine bishops, global pop stars, and  Nobel Laureate John Maxwell Coetzee.

Manila Zoo will turn 60 in July. – Rappler.com