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Affected by the COVID-19 crisis, Malabon Zoo struggles to provide food for animals

Even zoo animals are not spared by the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), parks and zoos are still not allowed to operate, resulting in struggles of owners to provide food and needs of the animals.

In a report on Stand For Truth, Atom Araullo interviewed Malabon Zoo Owner Manny Tangco who shared the challenges they are facing to care for the animals inside amid the pandemic.

"When this lockdown began, we thought that two months lang 'to kaya ko ito sa savings ko tsaka makakahiram ako sa mga kamag-anak ko; nang ma-realize namin na magtatagal pa pala ito."

He continued, "Maski na GCQ na o Modified ECQ, hindi pa rin pwede raw magbukas mga katulad namin."

Malabon Zoo is currently on lockdown to prevent their animals from getting infected with COVID-19.

"Total lockdown po kami, talagang wala po kaming pinapapasok na ibang tao dito sa loob po and all my staff naman po and their families are stay-in. We're always very vigilant to make sure na no illness come in to us," Tangco said.

The Malabon Zoo management is taking extra measures to keep their animals safe, especially after news of animals getting infected with COVID-19 in other countries.

The report said in Hong Kong a dog died after getting a low-level infection of the coronavirus, while a cat contracted the virus in Belgium.

Meanwhile, four tigers and three lions were infected by COVID-19 in a zoo in the U.S.

According to Veterinarian Dr. Rizalina Zunio, the chances of animals getting infected with COVID-19 is very low.

"'Yung incident, hindi pa proven na nangyayari nga yun kasi very low yung incident [ng infection] may mga reasons kung pwede mangyari 'yun — talagang sakitin 'yung hayop, mahina yung resistensya nila, originally meron na talagang coronavirus sa aso at pusa."

Citing the World Health Organization, the report said there's no enough evidence that prove COVID-19 can be transmitted to animals.

Aside from the fear of their animals getting infected with the virus, Malabon Zoo is also struggling to feed the animals, which had led to them calling for donations amid the pandemic.

"Panic mode na kami, so I placed in my gate, 'Please help with your cash donations for the food of zoo animals." Tangco said.

Some netizens, like Christian Dale, saw the signage and posted on social media.

As an animal lover himself, he understood the difficult situation the Malabon Zoo management is facing.

"Napadaan ako doon that time, umuulaan pa. Naawa naman ako sa mga hayop paano 'yung mga kakainin nila? Alam ko din naman 'yung cause nun kung wala akong pagkukuhaan ng pera diba?" he said.

"Siyempre po may buhay sila eh, kailangan din nilang kumain," he added.

Tangco said he immediately got calls from so many people after their call for help was posted online.

"There was somebody who told me, 'Manny, I cannot talk much because I'm in tears right now,'" he narrated.

"There are people who are telling me, 'we apologize that we have forgotten about the animals during this time of the COVID-19 virus. We were focusing on the people, the poor people, the hungry people,'" he continued.

As of this writing, Tangco said the animals in Malabon Zoo are being well fed but he said they need to sustain the donations coming in.

"So in the long run for the coming months na we're not allowed to open, they will still provide and be very healthy po," he said.

The Avilon Zoo in Rizal has also called for help in providing food and veterinary services for its animals. — Jannielyn Ann Bigtas/LA, GMA News