Pardon the touch of sensationalism. I am supposed to be on the last leg of my vacation in the romantic chilly North a I write this! However, I just couldn’t believe what my fellow Bulletin tech columnist Jerry Liao emailed me today, about the albino snake in the Ark Avilon Zoo biting his daughter a few days back. Me and my kids were one of the first visitors to the zoo, having been there during the second day after it opened. Saw the white snake ourselves, and it’s just good that we didn’t keep too close, me being deathly afraid of this reptile.
Okay, so we learn from Jerry that the albino snake is the “non-venomous type. ” Still, that doesn’t excuse the seemingly indifferent attitude of the zoo management on the matter. A snake bite is a snake bite and being bitten by a snake, no matter how innocuous, is still there on one of the top horrific experiences in my book. A zoo handler even had the gall to say to a shocked Jerry afterwards: “Baka masarap ang daliri ng anak mo kaya kinagat.” (Maybe the finger of your child is yummy enough that’s why it was bitten).
The least I would like to happen is to have this matter blown out of proportion. After all, the Avilon zoos in Pasig and Montalban are doing a great job of educating the children. Changes should be implemented after this incident and the proper apologies/explanation made.
Here’ s the full text of Jerry Liao’s story:
” 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, donkey, 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 bleeding so I quickly ask where the clinic was located. I saw a sign that read Hospital/Quarantine, I quickly 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.”
First of all, that was a very insensitive remark from AoA, blaming my daughter for the incident. Being bitten by a snake is not only horrible but a traumatic one as well. What are the chances that you will get bitten by a snake in the metropolis? Worst in a theme park like Arc of Avilon.
If AoA is saying that there is always a possibility that visitors will be bitten everytime animals are mishandled, then do not allow the animals to be
touched at all. Its bad enough that the animals were taken out of their natural habitat. I don’t think the snake was hurt or frighten, they were tired and
irritated because the animals were being used to entertain people.
Visitors are not trained to handle animals properly especially kids. Let me remind AoA that most of your visitors 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 frighten so that biting won’t happen.
And since accidents happen, how come AoA doesn’t even have a clinic to at least administer first-aid treatment. What if the eagles decided to peck the
visitors, or use their big claws to attack the children. 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. AoA should not allow people to touch a snake that bites plus they should have expert handlers to assist its visitors. What if the snake turns out to be venomous and something happen to my daughter? How would AoA deal with that?
Arc of Avilon management should take full responsiblity and not just say that the snake is a non-venomous one. They did not offer any help and then they will blame the visitors for mishandling the animals.
Am I over reacting? I don’t think so. 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’ve improve their facilities.
To the management of Arc of Avilon, put your visitors safety first before anything else. We visit your zoo trusting that you care for us and you know what you’re doing. What happen was a nightmare. Not only did my daughter got bitten by a snake, she was even blamed by inconsiderate owners. I am just curious, if the management of Arc of Avilon treat their visitors like the way they treated us, I wonder how they treat their animals inside their zoo.
Never will we go to the Arc of Avilon again. NEVER AGAIN. ”