Zoobic Safari in Subic Bay cannot be described as boring!
There was a huge bang as the massive tiger landed on the roof of the caged Jeepney, feathers went everywhere and shirts were sprayed with blood as the tiger attacked and literally ripped the chicken apart! Not for the feint hearted that's for sure, in fact I'm not sure you could get away with it anywhere but in the Philippines!
I first heard about Zoobic Safari after completing a scuba dive on the wreck of the LST in Subic Bay. The other divers had been to Zoobic Safari the day before and were quite impressed with the tigers and suggested I should go take a look. So I did.
Zoobic Safari is nestled in the jungle and built on the site of the former US Naval Magazine, so they tell me that no clearing or destruction of any of the jungle habitat occurred.
The Zoobic Safari is split into 5 different attractions, but I wanted to see the tigers in action, especially since I had a vague idea what was going to happen. However that would have to wait.
The admission price is P295 for Monday to Thursday and P395 on Friday to Sunday, if you can get there mid week I would highly recommend it as it was very quiet, whereas the weekend is suppose to be quite frantic.
In the main building you also get your first glimpse of a tiger which is in a large cage, they also keep tiger cubs here just in case you want some photos.
Zoobic Safari Attractions
Before you get to charge off and see the tigers in action, your group is assigned a tour guide who takes you through the entire Zoobic Safari. The lady we had was extremely knowledgeable and you could tell she had a passion for what she was doing, without her, the safari would have been quite boring.
The five attractions are Zoobic Park Petting Zoo, Zoobic Serpentarium, Tiger Safari, Tiger Close Encounter and the Savannah.
Zoobic Park - Petting Zoo
The Zoobic Tour starts at the Petting Zoo, which runs behind the Zoobic entrance. It is a path through the forest with animals of all shapes and sizes on either side. It is here you will see a bucket load of pigs, birds, monkeys, deer, miniature horses, sheep, goats and bearcats.
Meandering through the Petting Zoo gives your tour guide a chance to express her knowledge of the animals under there care, I must admit I probably would have preferred to have seen animals that were native to the Philippines but then I guess I would not have seen any tigers.
The Zoobic Serpentarium is a small collection of reptiles. Kept inside a left over ammunition bunker a number of rows of cages line the sides of the bunker. Various lizards, turtles and pythons have made the bunker there home, in cages that is. One benefit of the ammunition bunker is that it is nice a cool and keeps out the heat of the day.
Just outside the Zoobic Serpentarium is a couple of ponds which house some young crocodiles.
Zoobic Tiger Safari
This is the part I had been waiting for and is without a doubt the highlight of the Zoobic Safari.
It is suggested, in order to get some action from the tigers to purchase some live chickens for P200 to feed them. The group I was with ended up purchasing 3 live chickens, more on the role the chickens play in a minute.
The only way you can get up close and personal with a fully grown tiger is to be behind bars, safe and sound. The way that is achieved is by boarding a jeepney. This however, is not your everyday jeepney, it has been converted. For starters a wire cage covers all the open areas, windows and doors so that you are nice and snug inside. The seats have been rearranged as well, instead of running length ways they now run across the jeepney for ease of viewing.
Inside the jeepney besides the paying guests, you have the driver, your guide and the chicken handler or should I call him the tiger whisperer?
We all board the jeepney and take off down the road until we come to a large fenced off area. Here we are let in the first gate by the man on the gate, who then closes it behind us. We are now in a kind of like a lock, with a gate behind and a gate in front, two gates just in a case a tiger gets through one gate he cannot get through the second. We now pass through the second gate and we all stare off into the distance trying to catch our first glimpse of the tigers.
Now lets get back to the chickens. As we drove around the enclosure about four tigers were lying under some trees escaping the heat of the day and only gave us a cursory look. The tiger whisperer then tied the chicken by it's legs to a rope and tossed it onto the ground near the tigers. Well didn't that get them interested. All of a sudden these placid looking giant pussy cats turned into lethal weapons. They sprung up and ran directly for the helpless chicken, just as they were about to pounce the tiger whisperer yanked on the rope and sent the chicken over the roof of the jeepney. The tigers did not care they just followed the chicken, jumping onto the roof of the jeepney amoungst the startled screams of the paying guests inside. Then the chicken was yanked back over the jeepney just keeping it out of reach of the tiger for not for too long the tiger pounced and the chicken was shredded, only feathers and two legs still tied to the rope were all that remained. Needless to say the remaining chickens faired a similar fate.
It was quite extraordinary watching these incredibly graceful cats move effortlessly with such balance, no doubt they are the kings of the jungle. Once we had finished and the adrenalin had worn off a few guests had a slight red mist on there shirts, a lasting reminder of how quick death comes.
Tiger Close Encounter
Once your heart has slowed down it is now time for the Tiger Close Encounter. Here you can jump into a small train, which will wisk you around to the pens, which the tigers are kept in. Your guide will walk you through the pens giving you a family tree history of each of the tigers and explain the nicknames each has. You can easily see why one has the nickname of grumpy! Keep well clear of him.
Interesting behind the scenes look at where the tigers live. Each day they are rotated from the pen to the enclosure to greet paying guests with the bribe of a live chicken.
The Savannah I'm guessing is suppose to be a replica of an African game park without the African animals, except for some scruffy ostriches. Inside you will find a lot of guinea fowl, ostriches, wild boars and potbellies. I would have been quite happy not to have seen this part of the safari, the owners have a lot of work to do to make it more interesting, time will tell I guess.
Zoobic Future Plans
It would appear that they have some big plans for the Zoobic Safari at Subic Bay. Coming soon is Elephant World, Rodent World (which looks nearly complete), Alligator Land, Animal Museum, Tree of Life and Safari Village.
How do I get to Zoobic Safari?
Zoobic Safari is located in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone which is the ex US Naval Base. The actual address is Group 1, Ilanin Forest, Subic Freeport Zone.
Subic is only 3 hours from Manila, maybe 2 hours if your lucky. There is a regular bus service to Olongapo City. If you want to come by ferry there is a ferry that leaves the CCP Terminal in Manila Bay to Orion, which takes about 1 1/2 hours. From Orion there are buses to Olongapo City in Subic Bay.
The easiest way is to catch the ferry to Orion and then arrange for a car to pick you up and take you directly to the Zoobic Safari.