Tucked in the corner of Clarkfield, Pampanga is a small zoo that is perfect for both children and adults, especially those who prefer to interact with the animals rather than watch them from a cage.
Aptly named Zoocobia Fun Zoo, it is located within Paradise Ranch Nature and Conservation Park near Clark Expo. I wouldn't have known this zoo existed if not for my colleague who lives in Mabalacat. Zoocobia is part of the Zoomanity Group that operates Zoobic Safari, Residence Inn and Paradizoo Park.
The zoo itself is relatively small and the number of animals are quite limited. Nevertheless, the visit was worthwhile as there are other attractions other than the zoo.
Guests can start with fishing in this small pond. Bamboo or stick fishing rods are sold at the souvenir shop (sorry I didn't get the cost) and baits sell for Php20.
They can also have their photos taken with the huge tiger stuffed toys. My 2 yr old son thought they are real at first and was hesitant to pose near them.
Inside the zoo...
Visitors are allowed to enter the huge bird enclosure where they can feed the birds and pet them. Bird feeds are sold at Php20 per pack.
Everyone can take photos with the animals or even touch them. Our tour guide was kind enough to assist us in taking photos with the birds.
For an extra fee of Php50, you can have your photos taken with an albino Burmese python. It was a bit scary at first but once the cold, slithering animal settled around your neck, it becomes comfortable (eeewww!)
This bearcat freely moves around his 'territory' overhead of all visitors. For a closer encounter, guests can buy Php20 worth of banana to feed the bearcat.
Another animal encounter that kids will definitely enjoy is the bottle feeding of baby goats (kids). For Php20 a bottle, my kids had a grand fun time giving milk to 5 hungry babies. Made me wonder with all the tourists coming in, aren't they getting overfed?
If you didn't enjoy the animals, the Zooc ride will definitely take your fancy. It's like the luge ride at Sentosa, Singapore. The zoocs operate only on gravity so expect the track to be sloped and narrow. The fee per head for the short ride is Php75.
Still not satisfied with animal encounters, Zooc ride and fishing? There's a playground (near the ostrich enclosure) in the middle of the zoo where chickens, goose and other fowls roam around too, as if happy to join the kids.
And who can miss this giant slide which can take the guests from the Restaurant down to the zoo proper by the entrance to The Barn (where the goats, horses, camel etc are housed).
Other areas I did not take photos of are the Garden Maze (it's small and lonely and doesn't make sense at all), The Barn where animal shows are held daily on schedule and the small Bone Museum.
For souvenirs, the gift shop by the entrance sells stuff toys and other thingamajig.
Entrance fee to the zoo costs Php250. Please note that is only for Zoocobia as there may be different fees if you want to go futher and explore Paradise Ranch. In fact, visitors can purchase a day tour package for Paradise Ranch which includes entrance to Zoocobia, use of swimming pool, lunch and guided tour. Visit Paradise Ranch website for more details.
Tip for the wise and budget conscious: If you are keen and decided to go, you may purchase your ticket in advance through Zoomanity website. The tickets normally are with a discount :)