I’ll never forget where I was when I saw my first crocodile in the wild. My father and I were on a six-week safari of Southern Africa. While touring the Okavango Delta in a dugout canoe, I spied two blinking eyes breaching the water’s surface.
It’s a moment I’ll always remember. There I was, face to face with a modern-day dinosaur, staring right back at me. Our guide shook silently, while tracing his lips with a shaking finger. He didn’t need to warn me twice. We drifted by, courtesy of the river current, and then and there my addiction to wildlife began.
How can you possibly begin to compare the excitement of witnessing majestic animals in their natural environment to the feeling you get when you see animals crammed into cages in zoos and other entertainment schemes?
It appears that Island Cove Hotel & Leisure Park doesn’t agree. In a cheap attempt at emptying your bank balance, the business has stuffed animals into horrendous living situations. For example, crocodiles, who are solitary and highly territorial reptiles, are stuffed by the dozen into poorly equipped enclosures with a patch of water so shallow that it only reaches their knees. This results in frequent outbreaks of fighting among the inhabitants, causing serious injuries.
Crocodiles aren’t the only animals suffering at Island Cove: The Bengal tigers are under great stress. Each of these beautiful creatures has been issued a lifetime sentence of solitary confinement, unable to interact with other big cats because they are confined to cages too small to allow even proper exercise, let alone company.
If what Island Cove is doing sounds illegal, that’s because it is! Under Section 6 of the Animal Welfare Act of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 8485), it is illegal to neglect to provide an animal with adequate care, sustenance, or shelter.
Please don’t patronize zoos or resorts that house animals like Island Cove. If you want to see animals in the wild but can’t afford the flight to Africa, the next best thing is Calauit Game & Wildlife Preserve in Busuanga, Palawan. Declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1977, there are 3,700 hectares set aside in which you can watch animals frolic in freedom.
Posted by Robert Fry