An African gray parrot
Wild nights at the Zoobic Safari
Ida Anita Q. Del Mundo (The Philippine Star) - May 6, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Zoobic Safari recently opened its gates to guests after hours for their much-anticipated Night Safari. Not for the faint of heart, the Night Safari offers close encounters with creatures that go bump in the night – lions, tigers, crocodiles… oh my!

The tour starts out pretty tame with a short tram ride where guests can view animals like zebras, potbellied pigs, horses and ostriches at a healthy distance.

However, Zoobic Safari is known for its hands-on, close encounter experiences. Among the highlights are a tour of the lion cages, culminating in a photo op while feeding a baby lion.

Zoobic residents – animals and humans – show off their talents and skilled during the animal show.

Things go from cute to exhilarating, though, with the tiger close encounter, where the big cats come right up to the vehicle to snatch treats out of a guide’s hand. If you’re lucky, the tiger will even jump onto the vehicle’s glass roof and hitch a ride.

The feeding continues at the Croco Loco swamp where visitors cross a bridge over some 200 open-mouthed – and obviously hungry – crocodiles. The crocs scramble over each other to snap up chicken thighs on poles that brave guests dangle over the swamp.

An enclosed safari vehicle takes visitors on a close encounter tour of the tiger reserve, where the cats come up close to get a treat held out by a guide.

When it’s the human’s turn to feast, the Aeta’s Inasal restaurant offers Korean barbecue-style meals with a Filipino twist. The standard banchan fare of kimchi and pickled vegetables are complemented by atsara and eggplant. There is a unique tinola soup cooked in bamboo. The meat is a delight for the famished adventurers.

Local Aetas provide the dinner entertainment with demonstrations of jungle survival skills passed on from generation to generation.

Revived by the meal, the safari goers can enjoy the night show which starts with a lively parade of animals, followed by a skit depicting the Aeta’s fight to conserve their environment. The Aetas then perform traditional dances, transitioning to the next part of the show: a variety show including a hiphop number with LED lights and an even brighter fire show with poi dancers swaying to the sound of drums.

Tourists go around the zoo by tram.

The show seems like a mixed bag of tricks until you learn at the end that all the performers are employees of the zoo – from zoo keepers to F&B staff. Their lively performances are impressive considering they are not professional performers.

After the show, take a walk through the Enchanting Forest led by your own greyhound guide dog who brings you to the middle of the forest glittering with thousands of green and red lights. The greyhounds may seem intimidating, but as they walk with you through the forest, you’ll realize that they are just as playful and affectionate as any other dog breed.

Grant’s zebras graze amidst the lush surroundings.

The newest offering of the Zoobic Safari lets visitors extend their adventure by spending the night at the zoo. Launched last month, GlampZ is Zoobic’s take on “glamping” or glamorous camping. It takes the concept a step further by offering refurbished trailer vans that are surprisingly bright and spacious. There is Wi-Fi, cable TV and a clean bathroom and shower. Talk about an upgrade from the usual tent!

Each unit has a spacious veranda good for families who want to have a leisurely breakfast the next day. GlampZ currently has two units available for occupancy and will eventually offer 12 units that can fit about four people each.

Each unit also comes with friendly animal neighbors that may come to visit – right outside your door. Soon, there will also be traditional kawa open fire baths in each unit.

The author and her guide dog get ready to tour the Enchanting Forest.

The landscape will make you feel like you are living in the heart of the jungle and the concept lets visitors commune closely with nature as they spend a wild night at Zoobic Safari.

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For inquiries, call 899-9824 or  visit www.zoomanity.com.ph

ZOOBIC SAFARI
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