Update on Prony, the Python. Prony, was transferred to the Municipality of Baclayon due to "political" reasons and died later on. For historical and educational purposes, the article below will not be deleted from the website.
In quest of the largest anaconda in Bohol, we finally set foot on a small barrio of Albuquerque, specifically at Upper Santa Fe, in Bohol province. The Barangay road leading to the sanctuary is a winding rough and dirt road; quite a bit bumpy and which you have to endure for a few hundred meters.
A big signboard sponsored by Pepsi Cola (featuring Jericho, a local artist) with the sign “Bohol Longest & Biggest Python in Captivity” is on a corner pointing to the sanctuary which is a few meters away under tall coconut palm trees and other hardwood species.
The area outside the sanctuary is wide and spacious, allowing more than five (5) vehicles to park at a time. The outside façade of the zoo is unassuming, quite dismal, and entrance to the zoo is narrow. We paid P5 per head allegedly for food and maintenance.
Upon entrance, you will immediately see that the area is small, with only a few cages under tall trees. On your left-hand side is a sundry shop where a few souvenir items are displayed. Snack items and beverages are also available. A few tables and chairs are provided for those who want to relax and avail of the snacks.
Directly in front of the shop is the cage of the zoo’s star, “Prony”, a 25-foot python supposedly to be the world’s largest python in captivity. The python weighs more than 200 kilos with a 28 inches body width, whose size is said to be that of a 40-year old python. The python is still young; caught in October 21, 1996 with a weight of 5 kilos and a length of 5 feet then.
The growth of the python is said to be abnormal and is attributed to the love and care vested upon it by the family who found her. She is called “Prony” after her captor/owner Sofronio Salibay, whose house is nearby. Now, almost twelve years after it was found, the python has remarkably grown to its present monstrous size.
Prony is fed live, white 40-kg pigs that are free of disease once a month during full moon. Before, she was fed live dogs until animal activists under the Animal Kingdom Federation, Inc. (AKFI) put a stop to the practice on July 25, 2003. The feeding of live dogs was a violation of Republic Act 8485 which is also known as the Animal Welfare Act.
Given proper care and nutrition, the Salibay family hopes that “Prony” reaches the 150-years life span of pythons. The python shares her cage with flying lemurs and a pelican-beaked bird. Other birds, such as a bald-headed eagle, crows, a rooster, and others are nearby. A baby python is also in another cage.
If you have been to the Manila Zoo and Malabon Zoo in Luzon, Albur zoo is relatively very small in comparison. Yet this is a very good beginning. Today, especially during summer, local and foreign visits to the zoo averages 300. With the improvement of the zoo plus additional animals, more people will be lured to visit.
The zoo started with “Prony” who is a personal pet of the Salibay family. Feeding it with live dogs caught the attention of the Animal Kingdom Federation, Inc. (AKFI), a SEC registered, non-profit and non-stock animal welfare organization registered with the Animal Welfare Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry.
On July 25, 2003, AKFI Director Charles Wartenberg together with the Senior Researcher Luis Buenaflor, and AKFI Chief Veterinarian Dr. Winston Samaniego, with the support of the town mayor, served Sofronio Salibay a notice to cease and desist from feeding the snake live dogs otherwise legal action will be taken against him for violation of Republic Act 8485.
Salibay accepted the notice and agreed to stop feeding his python with live dogs. To help him, the AKFI help him set up an alternative feeding procedure, using live pigs instead. Also the association offered technical advice on how to improve the cage of the snake, which was below animal welfare standards then.
After the encounter and the onslaught of the tourism fever, AKFI officials vowed to build an animal sanctuary in the area. In 2005, after a year of deliberation, talks, negotiations and planning, the Animal Sanctuary in Alburquerque town was opened and blessed.
Headed by the town mayor, Mayor Efren Tungol, the sanctuary is a joint undertaking of the local government of Alburquerque, the AKFI and PepsiCo International. The local government is responsible for the physical construction of the sanctuary, PepsiCo International to provide the funds for the project while the AKFI will technically supervise the project in view of animal welfare considerations.
The sanctuary is now geared towards eco-tourism pursuits and a primary attraction of the town and likewise will be an educational center – teaching conservation and animal welfare to all who visit.
The Animal Sanctuary is situated in Alburquerque town, about 8 kilometers east of Tagbilaran City. From the main road and coming from Tagbilaran, one goes left on a dirt Barangay road after passing an Elementary School. The dirt road to the site is about a few hundred meters.