bless the beasts and their patron

 

mini horses grazing at the grass

A fifteen-month old Asian Tiger named Kiara by her loneself leisurely prances back and forth in the almost three hundred square foot cage in the midday heat. She occasionally  breaks from the walking motion and gives a yawn, signifying satisfaction of the hearty lunch of beef and chicken she just had.

Then a man gingerly approached the side section of the cage and gets the tiger’s attention. “Kiara,” he  hollers as he puts out his arm inside the enclosure, ordering the tiger to come near him. Without hesitation, the tiger slowly treads toward the man, and allows the person to pat her head. “This is Kiara,” he introduces. Next the tiger just sits the steel bar partition as if wanting more affection from the man who is just too happy to give her even more.

– “Tale of the Tiger Tamer,” Success Unlimited Magazine, 2002

It has been a long time since that encounter where I had witnessed and had written for the defunct magazine, Success Unlimited. And just recently, I have come to see again the love and devotion of Ex-Governor Chavit Singson with his menagarie of animals in his home province of Ilocos Sur, particularly in his mini-zoo in Baluarte, just 10 minute tricyle drive away from Vigan.

Somehow, unlike the sorry state of animal affairs in Manila Zoo, the tigers and his other collection of beasts and birds are heftier, more alive and alert. Perhaps, it can be said that these creatures are better taken care of, and healthier. In fact some of these animals have been tagged to electronically track their whereabouts. Thus it would be easier for veterinarians and staff  to give the proper nutrition and sustenance to each animal. 

The white deer, the camels, the cute miniature horses graze on the grass and herbage that grow on a significant portion of land, without the confining steel bars that are familiar in zoos. Thus there can be some fine interaction between such benign animals and the people who are just too eager to oblige some petting on such beings.

Visitors should enjoy the carriage ride, propelled by the mini-horses imported from Australia, around the circular track. Children would have a grand time watching scheduled mini-shows of tigers, lions, and talking parrots and parakeets. And, somehow people will get amazed by those dinosaur statues in a section of the zoo. It can be reminiscent of the scenes from the movie series, Jurassic Park. Best of all, everyone can enjoy such simple joys for free.

The animals of Baluarte, including Kiara, should give thanks to their patron, Chavit Singson, for making their existence happy. Visitors should thank Chavit Singson for making them happy too, particularly that admission is free. On the other hand, Chavit Singson should thank his collection and the people for making him happy as well – as all animals and visitors are truly happy and have appreciated his herculean effort for his project – Baluarte.

 
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