Internet Medicine

Snake Bite Story at the Arc of Avilon in Tiendesitas
by: Jerry Liao

Snake Bite
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?

Albino King Snake
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.

25 responses to “Internet Medicine”

  1. Suzette Balgos says :

    Dear Mr. Liao,
    I am so sorry to hear about your daughter’s plight in that zoo. I am also thankful that you shared this horrible experience thru the web. I believe that this kind of news should be made known to the general public so that people who just wanted to treat their children to a day of fun and laughter would be forewarned for their safety’s sake.

    I hope your daughter feels better now. Thanks again.

    Suzette Balgos

  2. Juliet says :

    Mr. Liao,

    I’m sorry to learn about what happened to your daughter, I hope she was not traumatized by the incident. Also, thank you for posting this. My sister in law sent us a link here for this. My friends and I were actually planning on taking our kids there this month, now I may not take my child there unless I hear that they addressed your concern. Your post really helped a lot. I just wish that the owners will get the chance to read this so they can improve the place.

  3. Bing Alfante says :

    Hey I just received a copy of your email forwarded by a friend — I was really angry after I read it — I am sure if it was a foreigner who got bitten the staff and owners would be “tarantang pururot” !!!! I cannot believe how callous the response was to you and your family. That is one of the places I will NOT take my family to. Pinoy attitude has to change – look after your own NOT JUST FOREIGNERS!!!!

    Sorry to be tedious as well, is it possible to change Avilon to AVALON, we want to nail these b*stards!!! And you are right, if you want something known quickly and effectively – post it!

  4. Bon says :

    hope your daughter’s ok mr. liao, being the managers of the said park and giving you a response like that, even blaming your daughter for their shortcomings only prove that they are not worth to be the managers of the said park, they are so unprofessional, if they are the owner of the said park and having acted that way, it only shows that they put up that park just for the benefit of their own pockets and not the public, this kind of place with this kind of people behind it is not worth supporting for.. better yet, take legal action on this

  5. Mary Rose Bataller says :

    Dear Mr. Liao,
    Hope everything is okay with your daughter,now..Thank you for sharing your story,Hope every one will be aware of the poor service of the said Zoo, it was so disappointing that they dont have enough facilities and first aid kit, to think that its a wild life environment, i bet, they dont have at least a band aid,or an alcohol? You’re to kind enough, not to take a legal action about it, because, your daughter’s safety is at risk..
    At least, a continous medical assistance until your daughter is perfectly fine and well,
    God Bless you, Sir!

  6. aajao says :

    hi. i’m so fond of going to Tiendesitas but haven’t visited the Arc of Avilon (AoA) Zoo yet. maybe because my nephew and niece who i can take with aren’t here in Manila right now. If so, i would have brought them there too.

    i can’t see how irresponsible the management can be. they should operate an establishment with complete facilities and that includes the medical team to attend to instances such as what you’ve stated.

  7. Evelyn says :

    January 9, 2007

    I shuddered on your email story.

    You can also get expert advise at he Research Institute for
    Tropical Medicine (RITM) located in Alabang.

    I hope your daughter is okay by now.

    Thanks for sharing this story.

  8. Alain Yap says :

    Hope your daughter’s doing fine now (good that she’s got the wonder of youth on her side, Sir. Terrible thing but worse is the lack of a trained response for this kind of situations. Easy to say that it’s typically Filipino but we all know we can do (and deserve)- something better.

    Hope good comes out of this or it will bound to happen again with the same results. All establishments better take notice, zoo or no zoo. Importance of first aid treatment centers should never be taken for granted whether heavily used or not.

  9. Jenny says :

    Hi Jeff

    Our family was actually there on Jan 5th at about noon. The man with the albino snake came out I think at around 1pm. He did offer to pass that snake onto my shoulders, and kept saying that it was safe and the snake won’t bite. I gave him a stern look and said, “No thank you, seriously.” It’s a good thing we didn’t hang around with the snake very long bec we just weren’t interested. But otherwise we did enjoy our time there, particularly the animal feeding are on top.

    I have to say anything can happen when you engage in such activities as going to an open zoo. Part of learning and living is being exposed to such interesting “accidents”, which most of us have experienced as kids. (I’ve had my own mishaps, and my kids are as adventurous.)

    However, I think the main concern is that the Ark of Avilon should have adequate and trained staff support, including first-aid, considering indeed anyone can get hurt anywhere and in any manner in their facilities. If we want to advertise ourselves as a family place which is child-friendly, then we have to be prepared for these things. Finding fault in customers, especially in young children, is not a good response.

    By the way, we also noticed that the small bridgeway by the falls is also not safe bec the gaps between the makeshift “railing” is wide enough for small kids (like my 3-yr-old) to fall into the pond and the crocodile pits! Just be cautious.

    I’ve read in other threads that this e-mail is an over-reaction to the incident. It is this type of attitude that will get our country nowhere. If we keep on tolerating lack of concern and responsibility to others, then how can we expect our country to improve at all and be taken seriously?

    So I hope the Ark of Avilon takes all these comments from you and your readers as constructive feedback and improve their facilities to make it a real family-oriented and safe place for us to keep visiting. It’s a great concept, and we can all help make it better.

    And Jeff, I hope your daughter is well and is not traumatised by the incident. (although I doubt that if she’s only 2!) May she continue to enjoy more adventures in her life!

  10. CSeidl says :

    Much love and speedy recovery for your daughter.

    My friend emailed me this article as well and I have been sending it to
    my extended families living abroad and locally to be aware and to think
    twice before visiting this zoo.

    Recently, a tiger mauled a man in San Francisco zoo and even with all the
    “emergency systems” in place at the zoo , the written standard of operations in case
    if emergency is different from when an actual emergency event happens.

    I wonder if Arc of the Avilon has a emergency plan? What if the animals go beserk and
    run amok. If this were in the U.S. or abroad a lawsuit with ensue.

    God bless and thank you for sharing your experience!

  11. MSo says :

    Hi Mr. Liao, my cousin just sent this email to me. I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s tragic incident. I hope she’s doing fine. Thank you for sharing. I will share this to my friends and family too. Two things I want to say. #1) If it happens to me, chop-chop ang snake. #2) SUE the owner!
    I also want to know how did the Gaw family get their license to operate this kind of business? What else is new….

  12. wee says :

    Thank you for sharing your story. AoA should also shoulder the hospital/medicine expenses incurred. AoA should be more responsible..

  13. Mckoi Pernia says :

    Jerry, I sympathize. I’m a dad too. And had that happened to me, I would have had the manager and owner of the facility face my wrath. And i kid you not that would really be messy.

    I hope that your kid is doing fine now. And I pray that eventually, she will be alright.

    Magkano ba charge ng zoo na yan, at bakit kulang sa facilities, wala man lang first aid station. Leche talaga yang mga hinayupak na puro pera lang nasa isip. And the nerve to put blame on your kid.

    Flamethrower at granada at the very least ang inabot ng manager at owner ng facility.

    Hoy ayusin ninyo serbisyo ninyo at huwag niyo hintayin mangyari ulit it. And pray that it wont happen to some dad like me.

  14. Ian says :


    I’m a dad also, and I symphatize with you, I think the owners of this zoo are not even a parent themselves. I suggest you gather all the evidences (zoo tickets, picture of your kid with the bite, pic of her holding the snake, hospital bills, etc.) and file a lawsuit and give a copy to the media. Will TV shows like XXX or tulfo’s shows be interested in this story?

  15. Mike Pardo says :


    I appreciate your move in sharing your horrible experience. My wife and I were actually planning on celebrating our son’s birthday by treating him, and his cousins and friends to a trip at the Arc of Avilon Zoo. But we are dismayed with how you were treated by the zoo’s management and staff… so we are definitely changing our plans.
    I also strongly agree with your stand regarding how the local government of Pasig allowed such business to operate without requiring a clinic or first aid facility.

    Hope your daughter is well now.


  16. Mrs J Lopez says :

    In the Singapore Zoo, there was also an albino phyton snake that was being brought around for the kids to see and interact with. My grandson who was 5 years old was very excited to have it around his neck and even before we approached the handler, the handler remarked, “This snake is safe, his fangs had been removed so he cannot bite.” Not only that, when the snake was allowed to slither around the neck of my grandson, the handler was assisting it all the time. That made it a pleasant and happy experience for my grandson. Not a single minute did he feel threatened or intimidated. That’s the way any wild animal should have been handled. And of course, everybody knows how well equipped the zoo is with the attendant medical staff and medical facilities.

    I’m glad you’re passing this sad experience around. There is no way I’m taking anyone to this children-unfriendly and ill-equipped zoo!

    I hope your daughter is well and safe.

  17. lena says :

    AOA zoo will eventually lose clients/customers…with all these negative publicity..and the owners will just be dumbfounded when they begin to realize..”they had it coming…”

  18. Jennith says :


    thanks for sharing your experience. I will not definitely bring my kids to that zoo. Hope your daughter is okay by now.

  19. Lani says :

    my husband and i are both medical practitioners. we’ve been to zoos in different countries and agree that we, in the philippines, really handle situations like this very differently. i would strongly suggest mr. liao to sue the zoo because without proper sanctions, this incident will definitely happen again…..

    we hope your daughter is better…. 🙂

  20. Anna says :

    Thanks for sharing your traumatic experience with AoA. I hope by this time, your daughter is okay already. And I also hope that by this time, no one is visiting the AoA zoo anymore. I believe in KARMA…

  21. leslie says :

    Mr. Liao,

    I hope that your daughter is doing better at this time.

    I am deeply dumbfounded by the response of the owners to your daughter’s situation. Their lack of concern and responsibility as managers of a learning interactive facility is really what discourages the rest of us (who knows this story) from visiting the zoo. I have a nephew of 7 years old and a niece of 2, and sadly though, I will not bring them to AoA for the time being.

    As an animal lover myself, I would wait and see that their facilities have improved, a medical office and staff ready at all times, and the owners’ post incident personal resolution to this situation (should you fully decide to not file a suit against them).

    We are with you in prayers Mr. Liao.

  22. LimH says :

    Mr. Liao,

    You should file a complaint against AoA at City hall and in court!

  23. aui tamayo says :

    thank you for sharing your experience. we were there last dec 19 with our three daughters (ages 5, 3 and 1). my kids love animals. my 3 year old’s favorite was the snake!

    my husband and i also noticed that the staff didn’t seem enthusiastic at all at their jobs. nor did they seem knowledgeable about the animals they were handling. most of them were also masungit. it seemed like they were just hired off the streets and were not briefed that the zoo’s visitors would be mostly children who might benefit from being given info about the animals by people who are genuinely happy to be working there.

    if the owners get to read this, i hope you seriously re-think your operations. i hope by now you realize that you could have handled the situation more constructively and should close the zoo down if you cannot make it safe for your visitors.


  24. ransevere bugtong says :

    hello mr.liao,
    i am a mother of tree kids and i remember your story in a gma news, it is a very tragic story really being ignored by these so called owners, but i can relate to it bec. i have kids too, we are from the countryside and almost all the time we go there in the city we visit such kind od establishment.
    i am thinking again of doing so bec. of your story since my kids too are that curious.
    thank you for sharing and it will be a lesson for those who are concern to do their part and not gaining only from it.
    i hope your daughter had overcome her fears now.goodluck and GOD bless!

  25. kirei816 says :

    I went there last year to join a pre-school class in their field trip. I put a snake around my shoulders and even asked my godson to touch it. Imagine the horror when I found out a few days later about a child being bitten by a snake in this zoo. So that was your daughter! I hope she’s much better by now.

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