17 December 2014

Zoobic, saving wildlife inside the Freeport’s ‘Noah’s Ark’

Subic Bay Freeport, Zambales — A tiger’s roar can be heard occasionally, breaking the buzz of people rushing to the entrance of one of the newest attractions in Subic. Once inside, there’s a feel like one has traveled across continents to this jungle book-come-alive.

A visitor tells her company, “It feels like we’re not in Subic anymore,” perhaps because even the musky scent tells her she’s moving into the wild which no amount of perfume can conceal.

Then, the initial view of animal after animal — not the ones commonly seen in stretches of farmlands on a long drive to the provinces; but a collection of really wild species of animals completely foreign, except perhaps for he pot-bellied pigs.

Here, where the animal kingdom is well represented amid a landscape of diverse fauna, any man will easily second guess his top spot in the food chain.

For in this modern Noah’s Ark, the animals are the priority. With preservation in mind, this beautiful enclosure for animals is not only for entertainment, but education as well.

Aptly called Zoobic Safari, the area boasts of a biodiversity as well as an area that spans thousands of hectares of rainforest inside this premier Freeport zone.


The area was conceptualized by businessman Robert Yupangco, who takes pride in being a “Filipino Zoomanitarian.”

Yupangco started this endeavor during Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Felicito Payumo’s term just before the turn of the millennium. He envisioned an area where animals roam freely and interact with guests.

At his birthday here last Saturday, Yupangco’s love for animals, however, did not eclipse his heart for the people under his employ. They and their families – some from the Ayta community in Botolan – joined children from the Niños Pagasa in Olongapo City in an all-out treat at Zoobic Safari.

He gave them gifts and a share of his profits. In doing so, Yupangco believes, his employees will love their company, treasure their jobs more, and share his passion for animal conservation.


Zoobic Safari already has more than 40 tigers, including white tigers and baby tigers that were bred inside the facility. The company has successfully bred the two tigers, but is still trying to produce more white tigers for their rarity.

Lions are also present in the facility, but are separated from the tiger enclosure due to cat fights. I guess we might still not see a liger in Subic Freeport.

There are only 4,000 tigers left in the wild. With one percent of the population of tigers found in Zoobic, there might come a time when the Filipinos will be the ones reintroducing the species to their original habitat.

At the start of the 20th century, it is estimated there were over 100,000 tigers in the wild, but the population has dwindled outside of captivity to between 1,500 and 3,500. Major reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching.

Demand for tiger parts for use in traditional Chinese medicine has also been cited as a major threat to tiger populations. The global wild tiger population was estimated by the World Wide Fund for Nature at 3,200 in 2011.


Aside from the big cats, Zoobic Safari also has a crocodile safari that lets you feed a crocodile with a chicken part dangling on a pole. With powerful muscles, the crocodile can easily propel itself towards the bait. Visitors who are not fast enough get their baits eaten early by these giant reptiles.

A savannah for camels, ostriches, Wagyu or Japanese cows, pot-bellied pigs, mountain goats, ponies and other animals is found inside the facility. There is also a Serpentarium, Rodent World, Bird Walk and Aeta’s Trail here.

“But we will also be having a Kamikazoo where there will be a capsule on a zipline going towards a tiger enclosure. It will be the same as the Tiger Safari yet the difference is that the thrill of zipping thru a line is added in the tiger encounter,” Yupangco said.

All these ideas are what set him apart from zoo developers, making him, perhaps, a modern day Noah. He micromanages because he believes he is working towards his vision for the country – to be the last place on earth where endangered animals are safe. (Jonas Reyes, Manila Bulletin)

[1] CLOSE ENCOUNTER — A rare white tiger plays ‘fight’ with a golden tiger inside an enclosure at Zoobic Safari inside the Subic Freeport.

[3,4] KILLER LOOKS AND ZOOBIC CHARMS — A healthy python seems to beckon (left) as Aeta children, sons and daughters of employees of Zoobic Safari, receive gifts from wildlife advocate and park owner Robert Yupangco (fourth from right) on the occasion of his birth anniversary last Saturday at the Subic Freeport.

[2] CROCODILE APPEAL — Crocodiles stay in their zone for visitors to view their deadly appeal.