We went to Zoobic Safari last November 5. Zoobic Safari is a 25-hectare amusement park located in Subic, Zambales. To go there, we took a Victory Liner bus in Monumento (regular bus - P169/pax, P121/pax for senior citizens; airconditioned bus - P202/pax, P162/pax for seniors). Upon arrival at Olongapo, we took a jeepney to the SBMA gate (P8/pax) then a taxi to Zoobic Safari (P350/trip). The taxi fare was costly, yes, but it was a long ride and the taxi was a van-type vehicle so you'll spend less per person if you're going in a big group. As far as I knew, there was no alternative - no buses or jeepneys went to and from Zoobic, just private vehicles and taxis. The system was to get the driver's mobile number then text him around 30mins before the end of your trip. Failure to get the driver's number might result in the commuter having a hard time in going back since there were very few available taxis waiting outside Zoobic Safari.
The driver of our taxi was friendly and chatty, so the taxi ride was leisurely. The scenery was also terrific - lots of greens! For someone born and raised in Manila, breathing fresh air and seeing lots of trees has become a luxury so I really appreciated the time just looking at them.
Upon arrival at Zoobic, we were told to sit near the hall entrance to have our picture taken. I didn't like that part, because with the way the staff ushered us ("let's take a picture first!"), it sounded as if the pictures were included in the tour package and were therefore free, but they were not.
One of the primary reasons why I wanted to go to Zoobic was to have my picture taken while I was petting/feeding a tiger cub. When I saw the tiger in the feeding booth, though, I had a thought bubble: that is not a baby tiger!
The tiger was a little petulant. There was a time when its handler was pulling on its chains to make it get up and approach the bench, but it wasn't responding and was even clinging to a leg of the table. It was probably bored or sleepy or tired of being fed milk by the tourists. There was another tiger nearby. This one was inside a cage, pacing back and forth, back and forth. Truth be told, I felt bad for the tigers because they looked bored. I just hope that all the tigers in Zoobic's Tiger Safari took turns in being the feeding area tiger and the caged tiger.
Since the feeding tiger was a lot bigger than I expected, I had to muster more courage. When I finally had it, we approached the staff, only to be told to come back because it was already feeding time for the tiger. Well they got no resistance from me, I wasn't interested in being so close to a tiger who was already expecting a fresh meat that minute. I had no plans of being an appetizer.
Anyway, since there was only a little less than 2 hours of daylight left, we opted to try the Sky Safari zipline first. Afterwards, we roamed around the zoo then got included in the Night Safari tour.
Some of the lovable animals we saw while we roamed on our own:
In the Night Safari tour, we rode with the other folks in this tram called the Zooper Train.
The Serpentarium: home of the snakes, lizards, iguanas, turtle, and other reptiles.
Croco Loco: A steel grated walkway prevents you from being the crocs' nutritional source. Here, you can also buy a piece of chicken to feed the crocs via fishing pole.
The Forbidden Cave: the place to see stuffed animals. The stuffed lion looked weird though.
Tiger Safari: Here, you ride a jeep-type vehicle having protected windows. A Zoobic staff rides along with you and baits the tiger with chicken to encourage the tiger to come close. Sometimes, a tiger will get on top of the vehicle. One funny tiger in our trip looked intensely at the chicken dangling outside our jeep, contemplated, then decided that he was still full and that his seating spot was way too comfy to abandon.
Somewhere along the way, we saw this ostrich (I can't remember where, probably on the way to see the greyhounds). Bright eyes and a lovely smile, don't you think? :)
Day Tour vs Night Safari Tour
The Night Safari tour was only available during Saturdays from October 29 to end of December 2011. I'm not sure when it first started, 2010 perhaps? The day tour would enable the visitor to see the animals clearer and to take better pictures. Many of the places were really dark at night, with few artificial lighting, which was a good thing since the animals would not be bothered. It was just a bit inconvenient for my poor eyes and low-tech camera.
The perks of the night tour were the fire dances. The first one was a fire poi dance while the next one was a tribal fire breathing dance. They were both highly entertaining.
The dancers performed after the tour. Our group and our tram mates were the first or second batch to finish the night tour, so we had to wait a loooong time for the other visitors to finish. Nevertheless, it was a great show. A parade of the lovable animals were also included in the night show.
Here's a funny video of an aeta chasing/herding a flock of geese. This is part of the animal show.
And now for some constructive criticisms. I checked other reviews just now and found all of my criticisms in other people's reviews, so it's not just me.
Poor communication. We arrived at an awkward time (mid afternoon). After we had our picture taken during our arrival, we were pretty much left to our own devices. No one bothered to let us know what we should do next. We were in the reception area for about half an hour and since we did not get any instructions, we just assumed that we just had to explore Zoobic by ourselves so we tried the Sky Safari and visited some of the animals. We thought that the day tour pass (worth P449/pax) was just an entrance ticket. We only learned that there was a guided tour when we asked for directions to one of the attractions (the sun had already set). The female staff we approached asked us who our tour guide was and we said that we did not have any. She seemed concerned and she took the initiative to include us in the Night Safari tour and to waive our tram fees and we were thankful for that. I read other reviews and some people have also remarked regarding the poor communication to first-timers. It would have been easy for visitors and for the staff if they would just give visitors a leaflet regarding the guided tour during entrance or while visitors pay for their tickets.
Rushed tour. Again, I saw the same remark in other reviews. The stopovers to the attractions felt very rushed. This was very pronounced on our trip to the Croco Loco, Forbidden Cave, and the Greyhounds area. We just entered the place then walked at a regular pace to the exit and back to the tram. Couldn't we linger for a while and appreciate the animals? I couldn't even take a picture of some of the animals because I had to move my ass in order not to be left behind. Being left behind would suck, because the tram wouldn't wait for you. No one was even checking if everyone was already back in the tram.
Group I Ilanin Forest
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
3/F Yupangco Building
339 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City, Metro Manila
Zoobic Safari Web site
Zoobic Safari Facebook page