Two weekends ago, I got the chance to spend time with my bestfriend Rona and her son Rafael. I was really happy to see both of them because we rarely go out, usually because of conflicting schedules. I’m glad I spent half of my Sunday with my talkative two-year old godson.
We initially planned on going to Ark Avilon Zoo in Tiendesitas only, but we made a mistake of entering the new establishment which claims to be the only freshwater fish museum in the country, Las Farolas – The Fish World.
For 400php (entrance fee for adults but toddlers can come in for free), you can tour inside the air-conditioned fish museum. There are two small, two-storey buildings connected to each other by a bridge, and each structure houses aquariums and ponds with various freshwater fishes. Las Farolas, according to their website, is an “oceanarium by design but a museum by function,” and aims to show people “the urgent need to save the planet.”
They have a pretty big collection of freshwater fishes, but it took only about thirty minutes to stroll inside the buildings and check out the aquariums. To be honest, I got a bit bored walking around and checking the exhibit. It wasn’t anything like the display in Manila or Hongkong Ocean Park. I guess I was also waiting for voice-overs or background music, but all I heard were the steady rush of water and the pumps in the aquariums and the occasional shouting of Rafael (he got a little scared when he saw the big fishes). Nonetheless, here are some snapshots of the freshwater fish collection in Las Farolas:
After checking out the exhibit, we went downstairs and explored the rest of the fish world. However, apart from the big pond in the courtyard, there were only a few “fish boutiques” and a small booth at the back where you can claim your photo which was taken upon entering Las Farolas. We got two copies of the edited photo for Php200 with the facade of Las Farolas as the background.
The tour was a bit disappointing, and we were like “That’s it?” Nakakabitin. We could’ve just gone back to Manila Ocean Park. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon but there were only a handful of tourists inside who also made quick rounds of the place and left.
Anyway, we still wanted Rafi to enjoy the day. We went to Ark Avilon Zoo which was just at the back of Las Farolas.
As the name implies, the zoo resembles a big wooden ark with a variety of animals inside.
There’s a pet shop (Pet-ttissimo) and a souvenir store near the entrance of the zoo:
What makes Ark Avilon different from other zoos? Here, you can feed the animals. Yes, you can! We’re so used to seeing signs in zoos which say “Please do not feed the animals.” In Ark Avilon, they make interaction between the animals and visitors possible. There is a feeding station where you can purchase food (carrots, okra, string beans, sweet potato tops) and feed the birds, bear cats, rabbits, and goats.
Apart from being able to feed some of the animals, another thing that I found interesting is that most of the birds and even the bear cats are not caged. It kind of simulates an environment where you can get really close to the animals and for me, this kind of set-up can encourage people, especially children, to not be afraid of animals.
Of course, apart from the above-mentioned features, Ark Avilon boasts of a collection of animals that you wouldn’t see in other zoos.
There’s a second floor which houses the more common animals and a number of rabbits that can also be fed. There are also several bird cages and aquariums with snakes in them.
I bet moms out there who are planning on bringing their kids to Ark Avilon will love that’s there a play area for their little ones. In case they get bored or tired of looking at the animals, they can play with the toys in the sandbox. There’s also a playhouse which definitely caught Rafi’s attention because he lingered there for a long time.
No need to fret if you start hearing your stomachs growl because there’s also a cafeteria beside the kids’ play area.
The artsy-fartsy girl / nerd in me loved the small trivia signs posted all over the zoo, as well as other arts and crafts on the walls.
This time, I really enjoyed and got my money’s worth. We stayed there for more than an hour because Rafi was having fun in the play area. My bestfriend and I also had a chance to catch-up while looking after my godson.
Ark Avilon is a must-visit for animal lovers and even kids who are beginning to show their appreciation for animals. Parents just really have to supervise the kids while they’re feeding the animals to ensure safety. Also, it can get a little hot inside the zoo even if it’s not totally enclosed, so you have to be patient with the heat plus the smell of some animals. Nonetheless, I’d love to come back and maybe try feeding the birds and rabbits. Oh, for those who are planning to visit in the morning, you can just get your hand stamped and enjoy re-entry to the zoo for the entire day.
It’s amazing how time flies fast. My bestfriend and I used to bond over coffee and food or go shopping, but because we have Rafael to consider we thought of visiting a place where he’ll learn something. I’m looking forward to more trips with Rona and Rafael, and I think I should start scouting for another interesting place like Ark Avilon Zoo.
Las Farolas – The Fish World and Ark Avilon Zoo are located in Frontera Verde, Ortigas Avenue behind Fun Ranch (across Tiendesitas).
Las Farolas contact number: 826-8162
Ark Avilon Zoo contact number: 706-2992