New city zoo caretaker as Tom claims corruption

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita September 20,2016 - 09:27 PM

The Compania Maritima building will soon house birds of various breeds based on a plan by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña. (CDN PHOTO / JUNJIE MENDOZA)

The Compania Maritima building will soon house birds of various breeds based on a plan by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña. (CDN PHOTO / JUNJIE MENDOZA)

City Veterinarian Dr. Alice Utlang was appointed by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña as the new caretaker of the Cebu City Zoo or the Cebu Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Office (CWRCPO).

In yesterday’s press conference, Osmeña said Utlang took charge of the zoo during his previous tenure as mayor but was transferred after he left in 2010.

“Now there are allegations that the animals are dying, they are not being taken cared of, etc. My allegation is that the Cebu City Zoo is a haven of corruption,” the mayor said.

Osmeña said there are more personnel in the zoo before than what is actually needed.

The mayor also said the food for the animals like fruits and feeds are being purchased at a much more expensive price compared to others.

Utlang supported the mayor’s claims saying that five caretakers are enough to maintain the zoo.

The city used to have more than 20 personnel, all of whom were not renewed by the mayor.

She also questioned why there are donated animals inside the facility saying it has to be reviewed.

Utlang said the three pythons owned by Romarate that were used for the facility’s famous snake massage were taken back by Romarate after his assignment was not renewed.

Utlang also questioned if the money that was collected for the snake massage was remitted to City Hall or was kept by Romarate since he owns the snakes.

She said contrary to claims by her predecessor Pilar Romero, the zoo has a P3.1 million budget for food alone for this year and that some animals there don’t need expensive food.

Utlang also agreed to Osmeña’s plan to keep the birds under the city and convert the old Compania Maritima building into an aviary for them.

Cebu Ports Authority (CPA) manager Edmund Tan already said they are okay with the city’s plan for the old building after he and the mayor agreed to co-manage the property. Sought for comment, Romarate denied the mayor’s allegations.

He said they don’t have any hand in the pricing of the food for the animals since it is being handled by the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) at City Hall and they only list the needed food.

As to the snake massage, he said they don’t collect fees for it.

The only fees being collected are the entrance fees which is P25 for adults and P10 for kids.

“As to the more than 20 caretakers, they were hired not because of politics. It’s based on their passion for animals,” he said.

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TAGS: Cebu zoo

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