Zoocobia owner happy over ‘animals going to heaven’

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    Robert Yupangco feeds his camel and donkey at his Zoocobia  theme park at Clark Freeport.
    Photo by Ding  Cervantes

    CLARK FREEPORT – Reports that Pope Francis hinted that animals go to heaven  has elated Filipino lovers,  including  businessman Robert Yupangco, who owns over  100 various animals, including an albino tiger that            reportedly costs P10 million, in zoo-theme parks in various  parts of the country.

     “It’s an affirmation of my belief that  intelligent animals  were designed by God to complement humans,” Yupangco said in an inter-view as he fed a  camel  at the Zoocobia theme park on the hills of this  freeport.

    Yupangco hailed the report on the Pope’s  statement  as a “welcome  development” for animal lovers. He recalled that as a youth living in  Bel Air in Manila, he had owned    a tiger inherited from a German who was to be deported from the  country.

    This experience nurtured in him  a deep love for animals, he noted. Yupangco, head of  the Zoomanity Group Inc., owns not only Zoo-cobia here, but    also Zoocolate  Thrills in Loboc,  Bohol, the Zoobic Safari at Subic Freeport, the  Paradizoo in Mendez, Cavite.

    So far this year,  these sites have hosted some 1.2 million visitors. Pope Francis has  created new headlines when he reportedly “suggested”  that animals go to heaven.

    He was reported to have confirmed  this during his weekly  address at the St. Peter’s  Square in late November. Reports conflicted on  whether the Pope made such a  statement, with  the New York Times saying the declaration was a  quote from Paul VI and attributed to Francis.

    But in his purported address last November, Pope Francis was quoted  to have said: “The Holy Scriptures teach us that  the creation of this  marvelous design concerns all that is around  us, and all that came out of the thoughts and  heart of God.”

     Huffington Post, translating the Pope’s address published in Italy’s  Resapubblica, was further quoted  to have  said: “Paradise is open to all creatures, and  there we will be vested with the joy and love of God, without  limits. And it’s so beautiful to think of being face to face with  Him who gives strength to the soul.” 

    The New York  Times reported that animal groups such as the Humane  Society and People for the Ethical Treatment  of Animals   applauded the pope’s comments,  although there were also critics.

    The Huffington Post also quoted Fr. James  Martin, SJ, a Jesuit priest and author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage, as  saying that the Pope’s comments shouldn’t be dismissed.

     “This is not an official  pronouncement. By  the same token, he was pretty clear about what he was talking  about and we can’t simply dismiss it. He wasn’t putting forth  any major church teaching.

    [But] overall I tend to agree with him. One way  to look at it is that people have loving relationships  with their pets and why would God    destroy those loving relationships?” Fr. Martin noted.

    Yupangco said his  theme parks promote healthy  interaction between  humans and animals. The Zoocolate Thrills  in Bohol also promotes a river cruise around theLoboc River, tram rides  and horse and buffalo rides, while Zoobic Safari  in Subic allows close  encounter between   humans  and lions wandering in their natural habitat.

    Zoobic Safari also  has a Serpentarium that  showcases exotic reptile collection and Rodent  World with its assortment of rodents. 

    He said that on the other hand, Paradizoo in Cavite is “one-of-a-kind  theme park and farm zoo that is full of rich gardens and animals. Some  animals are free to roam around, while some can  be seen inside their fences.”     

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