Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bacolod: Eltoro Zoo, The Hidden Animal Sanctuary of Negros

Eltoro Zoo De La Castellana

This hidden zoo in La Castellana City, Negros Occidental was unique discovery that one of my friends stumbled upon. When we visited the site, we were surprised with the diversity of animals in the zoo. It was the first time I have ever heard of tigers and lions in Negros Occidental. Read more about this zoo on my blog post below.

So apparently there's this hidden zoo in Negros Occidental... and this hidden zoo just so happens to have Lions and Tigers (and Bears. Oh my. Just kidding, no bears!). The moment I heard the word lions and tigers, my interest was piqued. I had never heard of a public establishment in our humble little island that has played host to any king of the jungle (tigers) or lords of the savanna (lions). (Well, of course I've heard the rumor that a mayor of a small town here in Negros keeps a pet tiger on his farm. Perhaps to devour his enemies? *nervous laughter*)

Well, there's a first time for everything; and the first time that lions and tigers have ever set foot in a zoo here in Negros was in the Eltoro Zoo located in La Castellana City in Negros Occidental. Located south of Bacolod City, La Castellana is about an hours drive away. Once you get to the city proper, you won't miss some big signs strewn about advertising the location of this zoo. If you still can't find it, just ask a local, and I'm sure he'll point you in the right direction since this zoo is touted as a landmark by the local government. (But if you really want the exact address of the zoo, it is located on Gomez Street, Brgy. Robles, La Castellana, Negros Occidental).

When you actually find the zoo, you will first be greeted by a large green sheet metal gate with a sign. Just beep (if you're driving) or ring the doorbell and someone from the inside will let you in. The entrance fee is around Php 100.00 per adult of Php 80.00 per student (as of this writing). Just in case you're wondering when it opens or closes, it's open from 9 AM to 5 PM. As to which dates, I'm not entirely sure because they didn't have a proper schedule posted on the site. (But we went there on a Sunday so I guess that means they're open on weekends and weekdays.)

The zoo itself is quite diverse. It has a section dedicated to forest animals (Philippine deer and boars), birds (eagles, kites, song birds and hornbills), reptiles (snakes, crocodiles, pythons, etc.), nocturnal animals (giant fruit bats, night cats and such), large cats, (2 lions [named Nala and Simba]) & 2 tigers [named Snow White and Spartan]) and many more.

The not only foster rare Philippine animals, but they have a vast collection of imported animals as well like Cassowarries from Australia, Piranhas from the Amazon, and hawks from the Americas. According to our tour guide and their website, the zoo was actually a pesonal project of a certain Mr. Felix Divino whose hobby started out as breeding birds and collecting animals. Now, this Mr. Divino has opened this zoo to the public and has used this zoo as an avenue for educating high school and college students about animal biodiversity.

In our experience visiting the place, our guide (Ms. Mel?) was very friendly and accommodating. She gamely pointed out all the animals and explained to us a little about their nature and characteristics. (She even allowed our group of eight to stay a little bit after their closing time of 5:00 PM because we arrived at 4:30). For souvenirs, they allowed us to each hold a large adult anaconda around our necks and have our pictures taken for an extra fee of Php 30 per person as payment to the snake handlers.

All in all, it was a fun and surprising trip as we discovered a huge variety of animals that the zoo had to offer. I recommend that you visit the zoo if you find that driving for about an hour or an hour and thirty minutes away from the city is alright with you.

Eltoro Zoo Contact Details:

Address: Gomez Street, Brgy. Robles, La Castellana, Negros Occidental
Phone Number: 0909 215 1437
Operating Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM


Eltoro Zoo Entrance Fee:

Entrance Fee for Adults is Php 100.00
Entrance Fee for Students is Php 80.00
Picture Taking with Snake is Php 10.00 per person.


*Once you arrive at Gomez Street in La Castellana City, you will immediately be able to notice a large green gate (as of this writing) with advertisements stating that that is Eltoro Zoo. You will have to honk or ring the doorbell in order for them to open the gate and let you in. You will not be able to see the zoo from the outside.

**There is a mini-canteen inside the zoo that sells soft drinks and potato chips.

***Picture taking is more than welcome at the zoo. Just don't use your on-camera flash to avoid upsetting the animals.