The Zoology Division, a precursor of the General Zoology and Ornithology Division, is one of the oldest divisions of the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) created in 1901, following the establishment of the Insular Museum of Ethnology, Natural History and Commerce. The Division was managed by an American ornithologist, Richard Crittenden McGregor who served as the first Museum’s collector from 1901 to 1905. He was employed by his fellow zoologist, Dean C. Worcester who was then the Secretary of the Interior. McGregor was appointed as the first Zoology Division Chief in 1907 who covered all genera of birds while conducting fieldwork throughout the Philippines together with his assistant, Andres Celestino. Their expeditions paved the way to enlarge the collection of “voucher” specimens that stimulated our understanding of the past zoological diversity of the Philippines. The most celebrated among his many publications include the Manual of Philippine Birds, a seminal work on Philippine ornithology, published in 1909 and Index to the Genera of Birds, a work of global scope published in 1920. He also served as the editor of the Philippine Journal of Science until his death in Manila in 1936. Aside from birds, his collections also include several specimens of terrestrial decapod crustaceans, insects, land snails, mammals, fishes, and even plants. Duplicates of his collections are housed in the natural history museum of the Smithsonian Institute.
Regrettably, the Bureau of Science building that housed the Philippine Zoological Collection (PZC) together with the Philippine National Herbarium was destroyed during the War. Dr. Canuto G. Manuel, the division chief of the re-established Zoology Division, led the efforts to restore what were lost after the War. Despite the series of challenges in redeveloping the Museum’s collections, early American and Filipino scientists managed to successfully expand it.
The legacy left by early workers are continued by the scientists and researchers to this day, and continued their research, focusing on studying the fauna of the Philippines with emphasis on taxonomy, ecology, and biology. The new storage facilities and laboratories of the National Museum of Natural History is a testament of the enduring efforts of the museum to protect and preserve the natural heritage of the country.