In November 2022, the newly rehabilitated Manila Zoo, also known as Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, reopened to the public. The reopening was heavily anticipated, especially by the parents who grew up visiting the zoo in their younger years. The husband and I last visited the zoo a few months before our wedding. And we were excited to visit again this time with our three children. It was also our way to have an early celebration of National Homeschool Day.
How to Visit Manila Zoo?
I have seen posts about the new Manila Zoo and everyone has mentioned that there is an online registration. I checked the website and registered for myself first. There will be a QR code that you will need, so screenshot this.
Ticket Price per person:
- Adult – Php300
- Student – Php200
- Manila Teachers and residents have discounts
Have your ID handy when you visit the zoo. The kids brought their school IDs.
IMPORTANT: You can register one person at a time. The website does not have a feature to register a group. Which was a bummer for families. Since you can only register one person at a time, the payment transaction is a single transaction as well. Ergo, each transaction you do when you make online payments mean each would have transaction fees.
After registering, you can pay for your ticket online (GCash and others) or pay at the kiosks at the zoo. I opted to pay instead at the kiosks to avoid fees using online payment. The registration is available for payment within 2 days only. Hence, I registered the whole family when we were already on our way to the zoo that morning.
Paying at the Zoo Kiosk
When we arrived after almost 2 hours of traffic from Quezon City, the parking was already full. It was a Wednesday. It was a great thing we used Grab and alighted when we arrived since we do not have our own car.
We proceeded to the information/kiosks. The kiosks accept exact payment ONLY. When we asked the people at the table how we can pay as a family, they said that the kiosks accept only exact payments and we can go to the nearest 7-11 to have our money changed into smaller bills. My eyes rolled. They did not have any booths where we can pay cash collectively as a group. They wanted us to walk out of the zoo, go to the nearest 7-11, and change our Php1,200 pesos to hundred peso bills so we can pay at the kiosk!
I was on the edge of losing my cool, good thing a senior staff of the zoo came out, approached me, and said that she will assist me at the kiosk so we can pay as a family. She first entered one ticket by scanning the QR code and then slipped the 1,000 peso bill into the kiosk. She was able to pay for all 5 of us in 1 kiosk transaction. Pwede naman pala eh!
The senior staff apologized to me and my husband for the misinformation.
We got our printed tickets and passed through the gates.
Near the entrance is a souvenir shop on the left and an Asian elephant on the right. The entire zoo did not look how it was before. It is now modern-looking. I am not an animal expert on what’s the best habitat-in-captivity for these animals, and would still prefer the animals in the wild, but so far Manila did a good job rehabilitating the place.
We wanted to see the hippopotamus since there was a big sign of it, but it wasn’t there. Sigh.
Apex Predators, Aviary, and Food Court
Next to the elephant and hippopotamus’ pens were the apex predators. The cage of the hyena did not contain any hyenas but what looked like a group of Capybaras. Sorry I wasn’t able to take a photo. If you have seen them, please let me know in the comments section if they were indeed Capybara.
Across to the hyena pen are the tigers’ pen.
The aviary was big. First I thought these were the only birds in the zoo. Later on our trip, we saw birds that are endemic in the Philippines.
It was an hour before lunch so we decided to have a quick lunch after our visit to the aviary. There were a lot of food stalls that offer soft-served ice cream, rice meals, shawarma, etc. However the tables were already full. We went inside The Aviary Cafe instead and it was a good decision since it was a sweltering morning and the cafe was air-conditioned.
We ordered a couple of floss bread and pasta. I had carbonara.
The food court is just in front of the water fountain and near the lake. One of the things we were unhappy about the new zoo is that boating is no longer available for visitors.
Crocodile, Lion, and More Animals
After lunch, we checked the other animals, particularly the crocodile that our youngest was looking for. He helped read the signs leading to the crocs.
Although it was hot that mid-day, some of the areas of the zoo had pathways with canopies for visitors to walk through. The canopy helped block some of the direct sunlight.
After visiting the reptiles, we went to see the other birds including the Brahminy Kite who graced us with their flying sessions.
Next, we went to see the lions
Now the biggest pen is where the Ostritch, Philippine Deer, and Zebra were. There was a signage for a giraffe but we didn’t see any.
We went back to see the primates however, the man guarding it told us that we need to enter through the children’s playpark before we see the monkeys. Doing so, we need to purchase from them some foot covers. I did not bother to ask how much it was and we just left since the kids weren’t interested in those. Plus, it was so hot already, we just wanted to wrap it up and go home.
The zoo was filled with different kinds of plants and I appreciate that they placed name tags for them, including the scientific name. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with plants, specially for those who are taking botany or landscape design.
The Butterfly Garden
Our last stop was the butterfly garden. There was a museum of butterflies that had a small gift shop. And they have a garden (which reminded me of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay) where live butterflies can come to greet you.
Before leaving the zoo, we had snacks at the food court. We got some waffles, fruit juice, and milk tea.
The Manila Zoo has transformed itself to a modern zoo when it comes to cleanliness, design, and organization. However, I find the ticket prices too pricey for a public zoo. Specially that other animals were not in their pens. They said though that they will add more animals.
But overall, the zoo is waaaaaay better than it was before.
My worry though is, that the common Pinoy families may not be able to afford a 300-pesos ticket for an adult or a 200-pesos for a child. Food and drinks are not allowed inside (except for the water in your tumbler) which may be an additional expense for a family. It has transformed from an affordable option for Filipinos to a place where ticket prices may discourage low-income families from visiting.
Moreover, although I appreciate the modern way of registering to enter the zoo, I found it too invasive in my privacy since the name, barangay and city, email, age and phone number were requirements even if we were not buying the tickets as Manila residents.
Furthermore, the non-existent ticket booth for non-techy visitors in the zoo may discourage others. Not everyone can register online, you know.
I still encourage parents to visit the zoo with their children. It is a great bonding with the family and an opportunity for them to learn more about these animals, how to protect them and the environment.
Have you recently visited the Manila Zoo? What were your favorites?
The Manila Zoo
M. Adriatico Street, Malate, Manila