Friday, November 16, 2007

Ep.0: Up-close with a Hippo

“In there?” I asked, as the crew suggested that I should go in the Hippo pen. Having visited various natural parks in East Africa, I am aware that the most number of human fatalities caused by animal attacks are topped by Hippos, Water Buffalos (and even Rhinos before their significant population decline), and not from lions or crocodiles. And get this – these animals are all herbivores (‘vegetarians’) and for some reason, they are very aggressive to humans.

Anyway, our Hippo in Manila Zoo is ‘domesticated’ and friendly, that I can actually feed its yawning mouth with my hand, or even touch its teeth. Admittedly, I wouldn’t go near this 6000-lb animal if it’s on land (unless it acts like a friendly Labrador).

We visited the zoo to do some test shoots, and no we’re not featuring this segment in the show. I am aware that some environmentalist or animal protection groups do not like keeping animals in zoo (who would?), but it’s a subject that may not be featured in the show (kase nga ‘wild’ ung title ng show ‘di ba). My take – these animals have a different role in life now (surely they’ll never be wild again). And that role is on education and awareness, a silent campaign to love and protect the animals. It is somewhat - a ‘sacrificial’ role. Seeing them or their living conditions is also a subtle hint and call - that we should stop ‘caging’ other animals.

Now let's hear it from Sir Elton: “Turn me loose, from your hand… let me fly to distant land...”

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