Revisiting the New Manila Zoo and a Farewell to Ma’ali

The last time i visited Manila Zoo was in 2017 and this was prior to the recent renovation which took place in 2022. First opened in July 25, 1959, Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden  or simply Manila Zoo is considered the oldest zoo in the country. It covers the entire 5.5 hectare of land in Malate, Manila. All through the years, Manila Zoo has faced numerous controversies. For instance, Vishwa Ma’ali, the only captive elephant in the Philippines has been subject of various campaigns to have her be freed or be relocated to a sanctuary overseas so she can be with other elephants.

The zoo faced another controversy which eventually led to its indefinite closure in 2019. Apparently, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified the zoo as a major pollutant of Manila Bay. It was found dumping untreated sewage into an estuary that empties into the bay. Former Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada planned to renovate the zoo but the project was placed on hold. It was during the term of former Mayor Isko Moreno that the zoo was given the major renovation it deserves.

The 1.7 billion peso project started in 2020 and the new zoo was finally reopened in December of 2021. It was, however, temporarily closed due to Covid-19 in January of 2022 and was fully reopened in November of the same year. A vast of changes were made to the zoo and if you are a frequent visitor, you can tell that it is almost unrecognizable. It has become modern and it now offers better enclosure for its animals. It added more attractions and more facilities as well.

The Zoo currently features more than 550 specimens of exotic wildlife representing 13 species of mammals, 38 species of avian, and 21 species of reptiles. All animals are securely monitored to their lovely habitats while being maintained by group of Professional Veterinarians. To top it all of, Manila Zoo also features a botanical garden where more than 10.000 plants are being grown and propagated.

Unfortunately, some of its famous animals are not around anymore. Queen Bertha, the oldest captive Hippopotamus died at the age of 65 last 2017. And of course, Vishwa Ma’ali, the only elephant in the country died last November. I revisited the new Manila Zoo last August and I was grateful enough to see Ma’ali just a few months before her devastating death.

Young Vishwa Ma’aliIMG_0315t

My photo of Ma’ali in 2017

A lot of changes were made in the zoo. For instance, they now introduced a digital ticketing system that allows you to book tickets online. They also introduced a water lagoon, a large playground area for kids, restaurants, a butterfly garden, and more. However, as part of these wonderful changes, they also made a significant increase in their Entrance fee. From the previous Php100 entrance fee for non-Manila Residents in 2017, the current rate is Php 300 for adults and children three years old and above.

Here is the updated rate of Manila Zoo as of September 2023

While the Zoo is still accepting walk-in visitors, I highly suggest that you book your ticket online to avoid the long queue. Those who have availed their e-tickets will be admitted right away after presenting them the QR code.
The new entrance of Manila Zoo which highlights the statue of Vishwa Ma’ali (image from Manila Zoo Official)

Manila Zoo 2017
The newly renovated Manila Zoo
My last picture of Ma’ali (August 2023)
_DSC0286tBorn in Sri Lanka in 1974, Mali has been Manila Zoo’s resident elephant since 1977. The elephant was sent as a gift by Sri Lanka to the Philippines.
The new Manila Zoo Map guide

Here are some animals that you can find in the Zoo

Siberian Tiger

African Lion
Brahminy Kite
Brown Cuckoo Dove

Philippine Swamphen
Philippine Hornbill

Philippine Crocodile

Philippine Crocodile

Red-eared Slider Turtle
Red Iguana
Pig Nosed Turtle
Sail Fin Lizard
Burmese Python
Elongata Tortoise

Different species of monkeys
The playground Area for kids
Dancing Water Fountain
The Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Garden museum is also one of the main attractions of the new Manila Zoo.



From the Butterfly Museum, you’ll get access the Zoo’s Botanical Garden.

You will also find a series of stalls and restaurants within the Zoo.

Overall, it was truly an awesome experience. The new Manila Zoo will surely give you another great reason to visit Manila. It features a vast of new attractions yet still provide you a remarkable nostalgic experience. I’ve only been here for a few times, but this Zoo is absolutely worth visiting. Unfortunately, Ma’ali, which became the face of Manila Zoo for decades, is no longer around.

Here are some things you should know before visiting the Manila Zoo

  1. The Entrance fee for Non-Manila Resident is Php300 / Php200 for Students
  2. Operating Hours:

3. It is advisable to book for tickets through their official webpage (

4. Food are allowed.

5. There is an area where you can buy foods and also an area where you are allowed to eat

6. Manila Zoo is open Everyday (including Holidays) from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

How to Get to Manila Zoo
The Zoo is just located near the Manila Hospital and Harrison Plaza so if you are coming from South, simply ride a bus bound to Lawton and drop off to Quirino LRT Station. From there ride pedicab going to Manila Zoo.
Feel free to watch the vlog below.

►Let’s Explore Manila Prologue
►Journey to the Past – Intramuros Part 1
►Journey to the Past – Intramuros Part 2
►The Papier Tole Souvenir Shop
►Intramuros In Black and White
►Fort Santiago
►Go Hotel Otis : A Traveler-Friendly Budget Hotel In the Metro
►Paco Park and Cemetery
►The Historical Rizal Park (Luneta Park)
►The Rizal Execution Site
►The Chinese Garden
►The Manila Zoo and the Current Condition of Mali
►Baluarte De San Andres and Baluarte De San Diego of Intramuros
►The Seven Great Churches of Intramuros
►The Manila Baywalk

You may also want to visit my past Manila-related entries
►Manila Pilgrimage Tour
►A Trip To Binondo Series
►A Day With National Museum

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