It all started when young businessman Robert L. Yupangco acquired a small property in Tagaytay with the vision of making it as a weekend rest house for family and friends. He started adopting house pets like cats and dogs to make the place more light, cozy, and fun. Later on, other people started donating exotic animals like civet cats and tiger cubs.
A bunch of his friends started coming and everyone saw the potential of the property overlooking Taal Lake. The place then started serving food, and it eventually became the weekend crowd favorite, Zoori at Residence Inn, “A Fairytale Concept.” The food, such as the bulalo and the lake fish tawilis, is a star attraction, too.
I first visited Residence Inn in Tagaytay when my husband and I were meeting with our architect Augusto Galang who would design our weekend home. I was already impressed with the animals, including a tiger, a cobra that a staffer fed with a live chicken daily. We were inspired and ended up with our own “home in the hills” some three decades ago.
Robert’s next expansion project was Zoobic Safariin the Ilanin Forest, Forest Adventure Park, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, “The Only Tiger Safari in the Philippines.” He soon introduced the newest attraction GlampZ at Zoomanity. Glamping, a combination of “glamorous” and “camping,” is a style of camping in the wild with luxurious amenities provided. Located inside Zoobic Safari, Glampz is a way to enjoy the great outdoors without sacrificing an ounce of comfort.
Following the success of Zoobic Safari, the group ventured into several theme parks across the country. One of them is Paradizoo, “a theme farm,”featuring the best practices of agriculture through the power of three events, the Floral, Vegetable, and Agri-livestock Festivals. In partnership with the local government, it advocates growth in the field of agriculture. New projects such as Greenhouses, TESDA Farm Institute are on the pipeline.
Given the potential of tourism in Clark, Pampanga, Robert saw the opportunity to open Zoocobia Fun Zoo,an “Arabian theme,”where visitors enjoy interaction with animals as well as adventure rides, including the first and only gravity car ride in the Philippines. He was inspired by his trips around the world, particularly in the UAE, which lead him to introduce the Clarkzilla Adventure, “Dubai Theme,” beside Zoocobia. Now you can enjoy thrilling 4×4 rides on the slopes and through mud and challenging terrains.
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that somebody else will save it. —Robert Swan
Robert also opened a theme park in Loboc, Bohol—Zoocolate Thrills, a Chocolate Hills replica theme park that offers a close encounter with various animals. Cruise around Loboc River soon on an amphibian boat. Zoocolate Thrills house Zooco, the Philippines’ largest snake in captivity.
Inspired by his yearly travels to Japan and an environmental park in the center of Japan’s Honshu Island known for its nature, winter sports activities, fruits, natural hot springs, the famous snow monkeys enjoying their bath in a hot spring, Robert also opened Zootopia Ski Resort.
Because Robert is a true environmentalist at heart. His company has social responsibility projects he attends to personally. He is in environmental conservationbecause of his love for animals, nature, agriculture, and biodiversity. He has once said that “the fruit we are eating today was planted by our parents. That’s why we need to plant something in return and for our future generations.” Zooper Cruise is a river cruise project under Zoomanity Foundationthat helps in creating awareness on importance, history and future of Pasig River and its rehabilitation.
One of Robert’s many projects is “Dinner in the Dark.” It is for the benefit of different blind foundations in the Philippines. He would also hold an annual “Christmas is for children” gift-giving project, during which he and his group would open the park to all the less fortunate children for a day of fun, food, entertainment, and education.
Thanks to his extensive experience in developing and managing companies in the tourism, farming, and hospitality sector and his vision to turn the Philippines into “one big green resort and theme park,” Robert is now called “The Modern-Day ZOOper Man.”