Are there Caribou in the Philippines?

One thing that I hear a lot of confusion about from people that visit the Philippines is about the “Caribou.” Actually, there are no Caribou in the Philippines! What is a Caribou? Well, it is also called a Reindeer. Caribou are very prevalent in Alaska and other cold weather environments. I am sure that there are also plenty of Caribou in Northern Canada, and also in Northern Europe as well. But, there are no Caribou in the Philippines. When you say “Caribou” it is pronounced as: “care i boo“.

On the other hand, the Carabao is the National Animal of the Philippines! There is a lot of confusion between the Caribou and the Carabao when it comes to foreigners who visit the Philippines, though! So, what is a Carabao? Well, in English, we would call a Carabao a “Water Buffalo.” How is Carabao pronounced? Like this – “care-i-BOW” BOW as in taking a bow after a performance.

As I said, the Carabao is the National Animal of the Philippines! It is a work animal on farms. Carabao are used to plow fields, carry loads, even used to ride on for a trip to the market! The Carabao is actually a much-respected animal in the Philippines because of the hard work that it does for the farmers.

For me, I really enjoy seeing Carabao! I find them interesting, and beautiful animals, and I like to take photos of them too! When I see a person riding a Carabao along the road, I really feel that I am in the “old Philippines” if you know what I mean.

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1354 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

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  1. says

    Hi Bob, a carabao (pronounced KARABA-U) is really a special animal. By the way, I tried to ride one. It's easier on an elephant… hahaha. Anyway thanks for this informative post.

  2. says

    Hi Bob – I have an uncle who is Caucasian that froze in fear of the carabao (my try at pronounciation: CAH-RA-BOW) when he visited the Philippines in the 70's. The locals gave him a ride and to this day he's really proud of the fact that he rode a "wild bull".

    It never occurred to me how someone might fear the animal. It is second nature to me to see it as the most gentle creature. But when I heard this story and saw how my visiting FilAm cousins were equally scared of the creature, I realized that to visitors, the carabao looked like a menacing bull. I still find this funny.

    If my uncle only knew that the carabao was probably equally scared to see this gigantic man about to take a ride on his back.

    I thought nothing could top this until another batch of visitors freaked out at the sight of the butiki (gecko?). That's another creature that is such a normal everyday sight to me (just like ants) but to many westerners, it is just creepy to see so many lurking on the walls or windows.

    It sure is interesting how what we consider as normal everyday things in the Philippines (warm rain is another example), may be something exotic and strange in another part of the world.

  3. says

    Hi Macky – Want to hear something even funnier? I don't have any fear of Carabao, I go up to them, even pet them. Feyma is afraid of them, though! She says they might charge toward you. I have never seen that happen before, maybe I am ignorant about them, I can't say for sure. But, based on what you are saying, I would say that my feeling about the gentleness of a carabao are accurate!

    Hi Laurence – Interesting indeed. Thanks for sharing.

  4. anthony says

    Some of you may have seen the photos on the " my sarisari store" website, where there is a festival in one of the provinces where they teach the carabao to kneel in front of the church. Pretty impressive.

  5. says

    Hi anthony – I'll check those photos out, thanks!

    Hi Brian – Believe it or not, I have indeed eaten carabao! It was at a wedding party, and they had "lechon young carabao." It was indeed delicious. I wouldn't make a habit out of eating it, though. I believe it is actually illegal to kill and eat a carabao.

    Hi John – I'm not even going to mention anything about riding on your back….. don't go there! 😆

  6. says

    Got a good chuckle out of this one, Bob. Yes I have so often heard Americans mix up the animals that it doesn't even raise my eyebrows any more. One thing you didn't mention is caribao milk. It's rich and good for many things, especially cheese and yogurt. If you even hear Italians and fine chefs raving about "Buffalo Mozzarella", the buffalo they are talking about is the water buffalao … still found in mid-East countries as well as in SEA.

  7. says

    Hi Dave Starr – Yep, I chuckle on this one too. I would say that at least 40% of foreigners that I meet have trouble with this one!

    I have enjoyed Carabao Milk. There is a place in Central Mindanao (Bukidnon) called the Carabao Research Center at Central Mindanao University. They have all kinds of Carabao Milk products there including cheeses, milk, pastries using carabao milk, etc. It's quite delicious!

  8. Mady says

    I was laughing at the caribou mistaken by a carabao and gecko incidents… hehehehe.. Actually I didn't experience a carabao charge after me and the other postulant at that time but a cabao did. Thank God we got out of the way and run behind a pile of blocks. I was so scared and we weren't even wearing a red shirt. Infact, we were wearing a white postulants habit.

  9. Samana says

    We were traveling in Leyte, together with an American, and as we were going past the rice paddies she suddenly exclaims, “He’s riding on a cow?!” It’s a carabao!

  10. Ron B says

    My fiance talks so fondly of her fathers carabao. They are a very respected animal and why not with how much work they do for the farmers. Caribou and carabao reminds me of our first language bunngle. I called her and she answered the phone with lots of noise. Cars and people. She is somewhat yelling “I cant talk, travelling on gypsies. Ok talk later”

    Scratching my head… travelling with gypsies? They have gypsies there? That sounds fun… i want to travel with gypsies! hmmmm. I am sure you know what a gypsy really meant! Yup Jeepney. DOH

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