The Zoology Division

Historical Notes

Undoubtedly one of the oldest pillars of the National Museum, the Zoology Division was born in 1901 with the passage of Act No. 284 establishing the Insular Museum of Ethnology, Natural History and Commerce. American zoologist Richard Crittenden McGregor was appointed as collector of natural history specimens and the first Division Chief of General Zoology and Ornithology. He soon began survey work and collecting expeditions together with a Filipino assistant, Mr. A. Celestino. The first trip was made in December of 1901 to the islands of Mindoro, Cagayan de Sulu, Palawan, Cuyo, and Culion.

Shortly thereafter, two successive administrative movements took place in 1904. McGregor and Celestino were asked tojoin the employees of the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes, only to be transferred again to the Bureau of Government Laboratories, known later as the Bureau of Science. The transfer was appropriate since the laboratory building used to house the scientific library of the government aside from being the center of biological work of almost all government bureaus.

Notwithstanding the series of shaky events at the Bureau of Science, early American and Filipino zoologists concentrated on studying the fauna of the Philippines with emphasis on ecology, biology, and even exploitation. Thus, the names of Richard C. McGregor, Charles S. Banks, Alvin Seale, Lawrence Griffin, Canuto G. Manuel, Dioscoro S. Rabor, Guillermo Blanco, Agustin F. Umali, Dominador Villaluz, Felix Arnola, Guillermo Ablan, Godofredo Alcasid, and Andres Mane became familiar figures in the Philippine Journal of Science, the first known and well-respected Philippine scientificjournal in the world.

The destructive war during the Japanese occupation of Manila in 1942 left nothing of the Bureau of Science Library including irreplaceable specimens and ichthyological and ornithological reference materials. Little was known of the developments after the war, although it is believed that scientists struggled to rebuild the collection through more extensive expeditions and studies.

This page was last modified Monday, February 10, 2014
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