Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Danger At The Ark Of Avilon Zoo At Tiendesitas

It's hard to find good alternatives to the mall for parents to amuse and entertain their children. The Ark of Avilon (AoA) over at Tiendeseitas looked really very promising. I was all set to take L and some of his classmates over there next week on a mini-field trip of sorts. The AoA is some sort of petting zoo, the structure built like a Noah's Ark of sorts.

Unfortunately, but very timely, thank God. I received an email from a high school classmate of mine, Dr. Amie Beloy, a pediatrcian practicing in Virginia. I was alarmed by what I read about what happenned at AoA very recently. To my surprise, the forwarded email was written by a church-mate, Jerry Liao. H and I confirmed if it was indeed the same Jerry. And it was. Please see below the full text of Jerry's email...

My Family and I visited the new Arc of Avilon (AoA) Zoo located at Frontera Verde near Tiendesitas in Pasig last January 5, 2008. The highlight of the said zoo is they allow people especially kids to touch their animals like orangutan, parrots, eagles, rabbits, tortoise and snakes.

And when you allow your kids to touch these animals, you trust that the animals are harmless and are trained not to hurt its visitors.

Unfortunately, my 2nd daughter was bitten by an Albino King Snake. Her finger was bloodied so I quickly ask where the clinic was located. I saw a sign that read Hospital/Quarantine, I quicky open the door but found nothing inside but some cages and two people talking. I ask if there's a doctor there and they said none. Then the king snake handler came over and directed us to follow him. I thought we would be brought to a clinic. To my dismay, we were brought to a dirty pantry full of flies. And the handler administered Betadine to my daughter's finger, which was stored in a soy sauce gallon container. A park with no clinic, no doctor and no medicine.

I took my daughter to the hospital, and upon reaching the hospital the first question was what kind of snake bit my daughter. I told them its an Albino King Snake. They were not sure whether the king snake is a venomous or a non-venomous snake. They said they had to consult an expert about this. After awhile, Thank God that the king snake was a non-venomous one. But the doctors wanted to be sure so they gave my daughter an anti-tetanus drug and ask her to take anti-biotics for seven days.

After reaching home, I texted both Jake and Tina Gaw (owners of AoA) that the doctor asked us to observe my daughters condition. I also told them that I am going to write about this horrible experience. Tina texted back and said: "Jerry, if thats how bad you felt, I respect your personal feelings concerning the incident. I wish she (my daughter) could have been more careful in handling the snake or other pets as well especially this one is exotic. Even tame ones, rabbit, tortoise, mouse, pig bite when they felt hurt or frighten when not properly handled. And its really sad when you felt it became a horrible issue."

Now it's my daughter's fault to be bitten by the snake? AoA never bothered to offer their help and now they blame my daughter for the incident. That was a very insensitive remark by Tina. I don't think the snake was hurt or frighten, they were tired and irritated because they were being used to entertain people.

Exotic you say? Why allow them to be touched by people? Yes, I agree that animals bite when they felt hurt or frighten, but let me remind the management of AoA that most of your audience are children, I even saw some as young as two years old. They will just touch and play with the animals without knowing whether they're hurting them or not. It is AoA's responsibility to make sure that none of their animals be hurt or frigthen so that biting won't happen.

And since accidents happen, how come Arc of Avilon don't even have a clinic to at least administer some first-aid soluton. What if the eagles decided to peck the visitors, or use their big claws to attack the visitors. Donkey or horse suddenly kicking. And snakes biting. There shoud be a doctor, a clinic and first-aid kit to address this kind of unfortunate incidents.

Arc of Avilon should not allow people to touch a snake that bites plus they should have expert handlers to assist its visitors. All the Arc of Avilon management can say is that the snake is a non-venomous one. No other help was offered, and then they will blame the visitors for mishandling the animals.

Am I overacting? I don't think so. What are the chances that you will get bitten by a snake in the metropolis? Worst in a theme park like Arc of Avilon. As a parent, will you take it sitting down? Will you just take their word for it that it's non-venomous? Remember, its a snake-bite. Let this be a warning to all my readers who are planning to visit Arc of Avilon at Tiendesitas or any other zoo for that matter.

Let my story be a lesson to all. You can ask your kids to look but as much as possible DO NOT TOUCH. Better yet, DO NOT VISIT the Arc of Avilon totally, until they improve their facilities. Never again will we go to the Arc of Avilon.

Thank you and more power. God Bless us all!

As a parent, this strory is certainly quite alarming. I have ditched my plans of taking the boys there. God knows what might happen. The establishment certainly does not give justice to it's name. Noah would most certainly not be pleased.


Marou said...

this is really horrendous! won't ur friend take legal action regarding this? the management should have offered to pay for the treatment of the child and should be apologetic instead of putting the blame on the child. may i know when did this happen? thanks

Lea de Castro said...

While I feel bad for the daughter of Jerry Liao, I think he should
have also reminded her daughter about the dynamics of animals. Just
because an animal is in a zoo, it doesn't always mean that it has
been domesticated and can be petted just like that. Many zoos try to provide or simulate their natural habitat and, in the same manner, do not domesticate them unless they are trained for shows like dolphins or monkeys. But even then, trained animals will still bite people if they feel threatened.

I haven't been to Avilon and I don't know how the place is operated. But I'm pretty sure that if Avilon allows visitors to touch the animals, there will be assistants to give instructions, advice or even caution on how to touch the animals. Somehow, Jerry Liao failed to explain how and why his daughter was bitten. Bigla na lang bang hinawakan? Kung walang snake handlers, bakit hinawakan? That's a snake, for crying out loud. Konting common sense naman.

I don't think the owners of Avilon wanted to put the blame on Jerry
Liao's daughter but Liao should have been responsible enough to
remind her daughter how to behave inside a zoo. His daughter is 17 years old. Napag-aralan naman niya siguro sa school that snakes can bite you.

Finally, I think it's unfair of Jerry Liao to use his media and
internet connections to rant about the incident. Avilon didn't want
that to happen. Of course, Avilon has shortcomings also, especially
the lack of clinic facility in case of emergencies like that but
Avilon is not the only one to blame for the biting incident.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me to say this but after reading that
unfortunate story of Jerry's daughter about the
incident at AoA, I was furious and so angry in the
managemet of AoA where the safety of their visitors
mostly young children is not at their top priority.I
think that it is not the fault of his daughter being
bitten by the snake in that zoo because they legally
allow their visitors to touch their animals and you do
not expect visiting children to know the proper way of
handling different kinds of animals unless their
trained handlers will guide them.Let us remember that
even our own pets sometimes bite on us in some
unexpected situation for the reason that it was their
instinct to bite whenever felt threatened or hurt.My
question though is why this zoo allows the visitors to
touch their animals?Is this to gain advantage to other
public parks and zoos where in the traditional look
and watch the animals is the normal thing you do?
Well,I just want to thank Jerry for sharing his
daughter's sad story about AoA and surely will not go
there to bring my family and children.