Snake Bite Story at the Arc of Avilon in Tiendesitas
by: Jerry Liao
Picture taken after our hospital visit.
(Thank you for expressing your support and concerns. I am sharing this experience to inform everybody to be more cautious in allowing your children to touch the animals. Also to call the attention of Zoo operators that as much as they need to take good care of their animals, the same attention and care should be accorded to their visitors. I believe that a clinic, a doctor and medicines is a must. God Bless us all! Jerry Liao)
I am a self-confessed Internet addict. It’s almost automatic that everytime I open my computer, the first thing I do is to connect to the web – to check my email, read some news, and do some business correspondence. But never did I thought that there will come a time that in a matter of life and death, I will rely on the Internet to provide me the knowledge that I needed.
Last January 5, 2008, My family and I visited the new Arc of Avilon (AoA) Zoo located at Frontera Verde near Tiendesitas in Pasig . The highlight of the said zoo is they allow people especially kids to touch their animals like orangutan, donkey, parrots, eagles, fowls, rabbits, tortoise and snakes. And when you allow your kids to touch these animals, you trust that the animals are harmless and are trained not to hurt its visitors.
Unfortunately, my 2nd daughter was bitten by an Albino King Snake. The snake handler took the snake away from my daughter and jokingly said that my daughter’s finger must be delicious for the snake to bite. A joke I didn’t find funny at all. Clearly the handler is not an expert for him to say such a remark.
My daughter’s finger was bleeding so I quickly ask where the clinic was located. I saw a sign that read Hospital/Quarantine, I quickly open the door but found nothing inside but some cages and two people talking. I ask if there’s a doctor there and they said none. Then the king snake handler came over again and directed us to follow him. I thought we would be brought to a clinic. To my dismay, we were brought to a dirty pantry full of flies. And the handler administered Betadine to my daughter’s finger, which was stored in a soy sauce gallon container. A park with no clinic, no doctor and no medicine.
I decided to take my daughter to the hospital and on our way, I called the management of Arc of Avilon particularly Ms. Teena Gaw about our plight. She said she will ask her husband, a certain Jake Gaw to give me a call. He never did, he just texted. I was asking Mr. Gaw why the Arc doesn’t have any clinic and how come we were taken to the pantry instead. This is what Mr. Gaw texted me “The Betadine just happen to be at pantry area”.
When we reached the hospital, the first question was what kind of snake bit my daughter. I told them its an Albino King Snake. They were not sure whether the king snake is a venomous or a non-venomous snake. They said they had to consult an expert about this. This is when I remember that I have my HP iPaq with me so I search for the characteristics of the Albino King Snake. Thank God that the king snake was really a non-venomous one. But the doctors wanted to be sure so they gave my daughter an anti-tetanus drug and ask her to take anti-biotics for seven days.
After reaching home, I texted both Jake and Teena Gaw (managers/owners of AoA) that the doctor asked us to observe my daughters condition. I also told them that I am going to write about this horrible experience. Tina texted back and said: “Jerry, if thats how bad you felt, I respect your personal feelings concerning the incident. I wish she (my daughter) could have been more careful in handling the snake or other pets as well especially this one is exotic. Even tame ones, rabbit, tortoise, mouse, pig bite when they felt hurt or frighten when not properly handled. And its really sad when you felt it became a horrible issue.”
First of all, that was a very insensitive remark from AoA, blaming my daughter for the incident. Being bitten by a snake is not only horrible but a traumatic one as well. What are the chances that you will get bitten by a snake in the metropolis? Worst in a theme park like Arc of Avilon.
If AoA is saying that there is always a possibility that visitors will be bitten everytime animals are mishandled, then do not allow the animals to be touched at all. Its bad enough that the animals were taken out of their natural habitat. I don’t think the snake was hurt or frighten, they were tired and irritated because the animals were being used to entertain people.
Visitors are not trained to handle animals properly especially kids. Let me remind AoA that most of your visitors are children, I even saw some as young as two years old. They will just touch and play with the animals without knowing whether they’re hurting them or not. It is AoA’s responsibility to make sure that none of their animals be hurt or frighten so that biting won’t happen.
And since accidents happen, how come AoA doesn’t even have a clinic to at least administer first-aid. What if the eagles decided to peck the visitors, or use their big claws to attack the children. Donkey or horse suddenly kicking. And snakes biting. There shoud be a doctor, a clinic and first-aid kit to address this kind of unfortunate incidents. AoA should not allow people to touch a snake that bites plus they should have expert handlers to assist its visitors. What if the snake turns out to be venomous and something happen to my daughter? How would AoA deal with that?
Picture of an Albino King Snake (not the actual snake that bit my daughter)
Am I over reacting? I don’t think so. As a parent, will you take it sitting down? Will you just take their word for it that it’s non-venomous? Remember, its a snake-bite. Let this be a warning to all my readers who are planning to visit Arc of Avilon at Tiendesitas or any other zoo for that matter. Let my story be a lesson to all. You can ask your kids to look but as much as possible DO NOT TOUCH. Better yet, DO NOT VISIT the Arc of Avilon totally, until they’ve improve their facilities.
Technology failed me during my wife’s battle with cancer. But this time, technology was on my side. It provided me the information I needed. Knowing the type and characteristic of the Albino King Snake was vital at that moment since this will tell doctors what kind of cure should be administered to the victim.
One last question: I would like to ask the local officials of Pasig – how did the Arc of Avilon got its license to operate when they don’t have a clinic, a doctor and first-aid medicines? Don’t you think this is a very important requirement? Kindly check the facilities of Arc of Avilon if they complied with your requirements. Do let us know the result of your investigation.
To the management of Arc of Avilon, put your visitors safety first before anything else. We visit your zoo trusting that you care for us and you know what you’re doing. What happen was a nightmare. Not only did my daughter got bitten by a snake, no help was given and she was even blamed by inconsiderate owners. I am just curious, if the management of Arc of Avilon treat their visitors like the way they treated us, I wonder how they treat their animals inside their zoo.
Never will we go to the Arc of Avilon again. NEVER AGAIN.