Sunday, January 22, 2012

Family-Friendly Places: Paradizoo, Cavite and Residence Inn, Tagaytay

When we hear the word zoo, we usually think of animals in cages with signs that say, “Do not feed” or “Do not touch.” We just go there to look and not interact with the zoo’s residents.

I didn’t quite know what to expect when my friends and I were invited to visit Paradizoo in Mendez, Cavite last Saturday. It’s very near Tagaytay and has the same cool weather. We arrived there early in the morning and felt the chill right after alighting from the van. I was grateful to take a sip of the hot chocolate drink we were served at the Paradizoo Café and eat spoonfuls of a soup they call Goto Mendez. We also got to try some puto and a glass of refreshing chilled lemongrass (or was it pandan?) juice.

After the nice breakfast which warmed our tummies, we toured the 10-hectare agri-tourism enclave and spent time enjoying the wide open spaces where some animals are free to roam. There are also big, fenced in areas where there are camels, ostriches, horses, ponies, and a five-legged bull!

One of our first stops is a big bird cage where people can go inside and feed the winged creatures. My 13-year-old son joined some of our friends and got “mugged” by the little birds trying to get to the seeds on Daniel’s hands. Seed packets are sold at 10 each. Before we left Paradizoo some hours later, the rest of us also got in the cage to experience feeding the birds out of our hands. It was a fun but very ticklish experience in my case :p

Aside from that exciting stop, we got to walk among very colorful and beautiful flower gardens. We also passed by rows of different vegetables that visitors can buy fresh. If you are a salad lover, know that you can buy lettuce there for only P100 a kilo! The farm also has fruit bearing plants like banana, pineapples, mangoes, coconut, jackfruit, and honeydew melon. There is practically no wastage as all the animals eat the grass as well as fruit peelings and even coconut meat.

More things are waiting to be discovered inside Paradizoo. We watched Greyhounds race each other along a wide track, went inside the butterfly enclosure where we had photos taken with the butterflies that settled on our hands, and visited a well-kept pet cemetery.

Paradizoo will also delight nature lovers who are interested in learning about clean vegetable farming practices that include seeding techniques, plant nutrition, cultural management, and irrigation and water management. Almost all the animals in Paradizoo are for sale as well as their vegetable harvests, honey from the bees, and honey-pineapple vinegar.

An agri-festival featuring livestock, vegetable, and floral fair will run from January 21 to February 25 at Paradizoo. Highlights of the event includes Greyhound racing demo, animal parade and show, animal auction, vegetable picking, seminars, organic fertilizer application, and more.

This theme farm has accommodations available for those who wish to stay longer. Spend the night at Caribbean style view deck rooms and watch magic and pantomime shows on weekends. Their newest attractions include a fish spa and a spa sanctuary where you can release stress and experience a relaxing back or head massage by a therapist.

Before we headed back to Manila, we dropped by Residence Inn in Tagaytay. I haven’t been to the place for years and it’s pleasantly surprising to see that they have added new attractions that are sure to entice guests to return again and again. There, we watched an entertaining animal show and some of us got to hold/touch several animals like a tarantula, scorpions, gecko, and a HUGE albino snake. My son and adventurous friends gamely tried almost everything but I settled on having a photo taken with the large spider on my jacket sleeve :D

We also got to ride a zipline and a cable car for the first time and the experiences were amazing! You’ve got to try those when you visit Residence Inn with friends and family! The cool wind on my face was very refreshing and the beautiful view of Taal Lake with the Taal Volcano was always a sight to see. The company of my friends, who are really great to be with, made the day ten times more fun and unforgettable.

Paradizoo, a project of Residence Inn, is located at Km 63 Panungyan Mendez, Cavite. They are open from 8AM to 4PM every day, including holidays. For inquiries, please call 899-9824, 895-7142, or 0917-8351111. You can also log in to and like

*Photos used are a hodge-podge of shots from my and my friends' cameras. Thank you guys for letting me borrow your pictures :)

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