2011 year of rabbit

12/28/2010 - Christmas Day has just passed and it isn’t Easter yet, but children visiting the Cebu City Zoo have been on the hunt for rabbits. Next year, Feb. 3 will usher in the Year of the Golden Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac calendar.

At least 200 local rabbits hop in around the 7.6-hectare Cebu Zoo in barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City.

But zoo manager Giovanni Romarate, said spotting rabbit would be a challenge for visitors since the animals are nocturnal.

In the day, the rabbits dig burrows in the ground where they rest, hide under the wheelbarrow or underneath piles of fallen leaves beneath the trees.

The rabbits become active at night.

“We don’t cage them because if we do we will constrain their activities,” Romarate told CEBU DAILY NEWS.

“It is best we allow them to move around and enjoy the natural habitat.”

Romarate asked some of the zoo staff to catch some of the bunnies for public viewing only recently.

They roamed the zoo freely for most of the 2010, the Year of the Metal Tiger on the Chinese zodiac calendar.

There were just a few rabbits in the zoo when Romarate started managing it in 2008.

He decided to set these cute furry bunnies free.

“Visitors really get surprised when some of the rabbits suddenly leap from the ground,” Romarate said.

Jenina Castro, 21 years old said she has seen cage-free just like in the movies only in the Cebu Zoo.

Castro was on her way to a low-lying area in the zoo to visit Bogart the Bengal tiger when she saw a rabbit under a clump of ferns.

“I was surprised. I jumped. I thought it was a rat,” Castro said.

Romarate is hopeful that they can improve the zoo in 2011 with the city government’s help.

He plans to restructure the area to imitate the “natural habitats” of the animals.

This year, zoo income from the entrance fee collections reached P2 million, a huge leap from previous years when the zoo would only earn P500 per quarter.

Although the year of the tiger is about to end, Bogart remains the top attraction in the zoo.

Will Woodland, Bogart’s donor, said it is high time for city officials to focus on eco-tourism and provide venues for both children and adults to enjoy nature.

“Serve the community and provide activities for eco-tourism,” Woodland said. (Cebu Daily News)

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