Saturday, September 3, 2016

Avilon Zoo [Philippine Adventures Quest 2: A for Avilon - Sept. 2, 2016]


If there is one tourist attraction in the Philippines that I should visit first, then it would be Avilon Zoo. It is located in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) in the province of Rizal and only a few kilometers away from our home. Yehey! It is a famous tourist attraction in Mega Manila and my parents were so excited to become my Travel Buddies. It was their first time to join my trips and become a part of my travel adventures.

I had read a lot of good reviews for Avilon Zoo and the only problem that people complain about this place was the its far location from Manila. You need to have your own car to get here comfortably or be adventurous in riding a jeepney that will ran along Litex Road in Quezon City. The Philippine utility vehicle will pass along Payatas dumpsite so cover your nose once you started to inhale the foul smell coming from Metro Manila’s garbage. Haha! Prospective visitors can also try traversing the road in San Mateo, Rizal. But the highway here is smaller and you might get stuck in the middle of traffic so better to ride a “San Isidro” jeepney from Commonwealth Market or drive your car in Litex Road to reach the zoo.


Adult tickets cost PHP 700 and it can get cheaper for children, senior citizen and for a group of 10 people or more. Take a look at the detailed ticket prices at the bottom part of this travelogue to have an idea of the ticket prices. I paid for the entrance fee of my Travel Buddies and imagine how happy they were when they got inside. I asked for a map at the counter but to my surprise there was none. The man at the ticket booth offered me a guided tour for only PHP 400 but I declined the offer because I was more comfortable in exploring the zoo with my parents and my brother. 

Upon entering the zoo



My dad interacting with a bird in the food court.
My mom taking a photo of the arapaima.

Arapaima gigas
One good thing about Avilon Zoo is that the management allows visitors to bring their own food. At the ticket booth, I was asked by the staff if I had brought something to eat. I told the guy that we only had sandwiches and tetra pack juices. He waived the fee of PHP 50 since what we brought inside the zoo were just light meals. If you don't have time to prepare your food, then don't worry, there were restaurants inside to take a rest for a while and eat. At the entrance of the zoo itself, was a big pond with a covered court where visitors can buy food and eat. Enjoy looking at the birds inside their glass cage while eating. If you got bored, then you can try feeding the gigantic arapaima fishes for a price of PHP 50. They were so huge and you won't imagine how big they were.

I have my snake photo here.





How big is Avilon Zoo? It is 7.5 hectares and compared to Taipei Zoo it would just be a dwarf. But don't judge this zoo by its size only. It has various attractions that you cannot experience in most zoos in Taiwan. Have you tried putting a big snake around your neck? I did it here in Avilon Zoo for only PHP 50. My dad, mom and brother were too scared of the giant python and I was the only one who accepted the cold-blooded challenge. I gave my brother my camera and I was a bit trembling as I heard the lid of the giant plastic box containing the giant snake was opened. Standing in front of my brother, the zoo employee put the snake body around my neck. It was a bit cold but I was more scared since I was holding on my right hand the neck of the snake. It didn't bite me and I felt that it was harmless. Aside from having a photo with snake, you can also have a photo with a monkey and a group of parrots. 


I chose the carrot for my mom. 




After feeding the rabbits

My mom enjoyed feeding a group of rabbits with a carrot which was placed on a long stick. The kind animals ate it fast to the amazement of my mother. Back in Taiwan Day 854 when I visited Flying Cow Ranch, there was a similar kind of activity but I don't remember any opportunity to feed the animals in Taipei Zoo which something that Avilon Zoo can be proud of.
Luzon hornbill





Luzon Tarictic hornbill
black-capped lory

blue-backed parrot
red-masked conure
blue-fronted amazon
indian-ring necked parakeet
Java green peafowl

Indian blue peafowl

golden pheasant

Philippine eagle owl

brahminy kite

An Avilon zoo worker feeds the birds

The name of Avilon Zoo would suggests that it has a diverse set of birds. A variety of “kalaw” birds can be seen on one area and these birds showed differences if you look closely at their large beaks and feathers. There was a Luzon type and Visayan type and much to my curiosity I got amazed of Philippine biodiversity. The zoo also had parrots and other talking birds. Listen carefully to what would they say. The birds knew how to speak Filipino.
North American Black Bear



food for the bear


"Yogi" bear (Malayan Sun Bear)

Palawan Bear Cat
On one corner of the zoo were the North American Black Bear and the Malayan Sun Bear. The American bear was sleeping when we visited its cage but the Southeast Asian bear was very active. According to the descriptions in the zoo, the Malayan bear was the inspiration of creating Yogi Bear. One tour guide came along with visitors and he called the bear “Yogi”. Some of the guests bought food and threw it near the animal. I recorded every moment as “Yogi” bear stood on its feet and patiently waited for its food. The Palawan Bearcat although not really a bear was hidden in a dark alley in Avilon Zoo. Its body was lying on a trunk of a tree and comfortably sleeping inside its cage. This animal is endemic to the Philippines and can be seen in the island of Palawan.

Joey and Chloe's island
Joey
Chloe



Bhari
Luning

Visitors can also feed the giraffes.
Lucky were those animals which were caged with a companion. Joey and Chloe were confined on an artificial island where they can hang themselves and play around. Joey was an orangutan and looked old. My Travel Buddies thought of Chloe as a young monkey because of her youthful face. She was even aware that visitors were looking at her and tried to make cute faces. There was also a pair of giraffes inside Avilon Zoo. They were housed in a two story cage and visitors have to climb upstairs to enjoy looking at them. My mom was the one to easily spot the difference between the two. One was lighter in color and upon descending down the stairs we noticed a tarpaulin bearing the names of the giraffes. The one with a lighter skin color was Bhari and the darker one was Luning. 

Reptile House
Tanimbar scrub python
Madagascar tree boa
African forest cobra
Burmese python
albino Burmese python

blue-spotted monitor lizard
Mexian red leg tarantula
Mexican fire leg tarantula
Mexian flame knee tarantula
Brazilian white knee tarantula
saltwater crocodile
Indo-pacific crocodile
Siamese crocodile
Nile crocodile
Bornean false gharial

American alligator

The Reptile House has a large number of terrariums where various snakes and lizards of different sizes and colors can be seen. There was also a collection of tarantulas inside and they were fun to look at. But the reptiles were not all confined inside the Reptile House. The crocodile area boasts a large number of these animals and you can watch them without the fear of being attacked. Just remember not to extend your arms beyond the railings or you might lose your precious hands. There were small ones inside their terrariums but the large ones have their own cage. The animals looked the same but the Bornean crocodile caught my attention. Its snout was very long and pointed like a sharp triangle. The American alligator was not very striking but there was one crocodile that I was able to record its movement. It went to its pond and seemed to disappear under the water. But it was not! It was actually looking at us and waiting for the right time to devour my family. Haha!









Persian leopard



jaguar



African lion

Palawan leopard cat, another feline in Avilon Zoo
Are you a cat lover? Then you might enjoy looking at the tigers here in Avilon Zoo because you will be so near to them. My dad and mom got amazed of one tiger as it goes back and forth inside its cage. It was so territorial and looked ready to attack. On another area of the feline area was a jaguar. I tried to get a close-up photo but it seemed not interested to look at my camera. The lion was not grouped together with the tigers because it has its own big cage mimicking its natural environment. It was sleeping when we first saw it until it stood up when it heard our noises. A large pond surrounding the lion's home prevents it from escaping out of its home.

meerkat

pig-nosed turtle

red tegu

pygmy pot-bellied pig

Palawan otter

Another video of the Palawan otter

capybara






It took my family five hours to see all of the animals and that includes our lunch break and snack time. There were designated areas for eating so take note of this. Walking was the primary way to get around and the zoo management can still improve its services by providing a shuttle train or some sort of public transportation inside. My Travel Buddies and I were all tired but we were all satisfied of what we experienced. We were already on our home but the ferocious tigers were still on our mind. Avilon Zoo is such a great place for family bonding and it deserves a high grade on my evaluation. What was my rating? I gave an A for Avilon. 


ADDRESS: 9003 GP Sitio Gulod, San Isidro, 1860 Rodriguez, Rizal, Philippines
BUSINESS HOURS: 8 am to 5 pm
TICKET PRICES (as of Sept. 2, 2016)

Adult: ...................................PHP 700
Child (3 feet below): ............PHP 400
Senior Citizen: .................... PHP 560 (PHP 700 – 20% discount)
Prepaid Ticket*: .................. PHP 400/person (child or adult) 
Walk-in group**: ................. PHP 500/adult
                         ....................PHP 340/child
                         ....................PHP 400/Senior Citizen (PHP 500 – 20% discount)
Pet food***: ......................... PHP 50/each
Tour Guide: ......................... PHP 400

*Purchased at least 3 days before the visit to the zoo
** 10 person or more
*** For feeding selected animals

HOW TO GO TO AVILON ZOO 
A. For Filipinos
1. Board a jeepney going to “San Isidro”. The terminal is located inside the Commonwealth Market in Quezon City. Alight at the UltraMega grocery store which is the last stop of the jeepney. Travel time is between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Fare: PHP 25
2. Board a tricycle and tell the driver that you are going to Avilon Zoo. Agree on the pick-up time after exploring the tourist spot. It will be better if you get his cellphone number and just send an SMS after enjoying the zoo. Estimated one-way fare for a group of 4 persons: PHP 200

B. For foreigners. The location of your hostel/hotel will dictate your travel time to Avilon Zoo so coordinate first with your host of your plans of visiting Rodriguez, Rizal. Your host can arrange a taxi or an Uber driver to help you get to the zoo and back to your hostel. UberX drivers are also near Avilon Zoo. They are based in Kasiglahan Village and just a few kilometers away from the zoo. If you are risk-takers and love adventures, you can also try the public transportation method I mentioned above for Filipinos.
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