About the Author: Caron De Mars serves as U.S. Embassy Manila's Environment, Science, Technology and Health Officer.
The Philippine Wildlife Rescue Center was the perfect backdrop for showcasing public service announcements featuring Dr. Jane Goodall and the ideal venue for Filipino youth to learn about the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products on World Environment Day, June 5, 2009. U.S. Embassy Manila invited the Director of the Philippines Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau and a volunteer veterinarian to talk to 50 students about wild animal rescue, care, rehabilitation, and release facilitated by the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center. The students also toured the Wildlife Rescue Center, handled some of the birds and reptiles, and received coloring books on the illegal wildlife trade. We shared copies of the Jane Goodall PSAs with the zoo's volunteers, and they gave the U.S. embassy posters from their anti-wildlife trafficking campaign.
The Philippine Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau owns the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center and uses it as a repository for animals that are rescued from illegal air and sea shipments; wild animals confiscated from private owners; and endangered species sold in local pet stores. Manila is a transit point for illegally traded animals and products and the Rescue Center contains confiscated animals and parts from the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
The Center’s volunteer group, MyZoo, helps rescue illegally traded wild animals and aims to release the animals back to their natural habitat. MyZoo educates the public to conserve biodiversity; appreciate endemic species; and improve the image, facilities and programs of different zoos.
Embassy Manila invited students from a non-governmental organization-supported school that educates children from the poorest communities in Manila. The organization provides educational and after-school activities for over 800 children, livelihood projects for teens and adults, and health care and religious services for the entire community. Many of the funds for these programs are generated by selling trash to junk shops, recycling paper and aluminum, and selling handbags and jewelry made from recycled material. Many of these recycled accessories made by the students’ parents were on display and for sale at the Wildlife Center on World Environment Day.