The forests around Davao City harbor an amazing variety of wildlife, some you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The “king” of all these animals is the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi, pictured above), a huge predatory bird whose forest habitat is slowly being eroded by logging and slash-and-burn farming. The Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Davao City (+63 82 271 2337, www.philippineeagle.org), is one of its last safe havens, a breeding program that grew into a zoo and nature park.
Less well known, but just as visually impressive, are the Geoffroy’s rousette fruit bats (Rousettus amplexicaudatus) that inhabit the Monfort Bat Sanctuary on Samal Island. Over 1.8 million of these bats live in a single cave system, and can be viewed (and smelled!) from a safe distance, separated from the bats by bamboo railings. From the entrance, masses of sleeping fruit bats can be seen covering the cave walls. For more information on the caves, read this article: Monfort Bat Sanctuary, Samal Island, Philippines.
For an animal experience of the reptilian kind, visit the Davao Crocodile Park (+63 82 221-8729, +63 82 2214671, www.davaocrocodilepark.com), and peer into large covered ponds filled with crocodiles. Other exotic animal species - eagles, parrots, snakes, bearcats, ostriches and monkeys – fill the other spaces in the park, rounding out the animal population.