LAOAG CITY — Visiting Vigan in Ilocos Sur is never complete without going to the Baluarte Zoo, a free-admission zoological park located in Salindeg village, and owned by former governor Luis “Chavit” Singson.

This summer, more tourists are expected to visit the zoo with the arrival of more animals such as giraffes and antelopes from South Africa.

As an animal lover himself, Singson said in an interview at his new Safari Hotel over the weekend that he is excited to show to visitors some of the newly-arrived animals, which are all legally acquired and being taken cared of by licensed veterinarians and farm workers.

“I waited for almost five years and finally, they have arrived,” he said, noting that he needed to rent a whole cargo plane to accommodate 27 giraffes and about 900 antelopes as added attractions to his 120-hectare zoo.

A visitor feeds a giraffe.


Singson said since they arrived last December, the animals have been slowly adapting to their new environment here which is quite similar to that in Africa.

“We have a natural spring so there’s no problem with water,” he said when asked how the animals are adjusting to their new home.

Rolan Esteban, who is in-charge of the zoo, explained that everyday, they are training the giraffes to mingle with persons feeding them with leaves from leguminous trees like ipil-ipil, damortis and madre de cacao, which are locally available.

To date, the giraffes and antelopes are still at a mini zoo in Barangay Bulala just a few kilometers from Baluarte.

“I’m glad we were able to bring them here which we plan to breed and sell later,” Singson said. The former governor noted that they intend to keep admission to the animal park and museum free for all visitors.

Aside from Baluarte Zoo, Singson's Safari Hotel and Villas is waiting to give tourists an African experience without having to leave the country. (PNA)

Antelopes getting used to Ilocos Sur weather. (Photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)