Days after a starving lion and a number of other severely underfed animals were discovered by a shocked visitor to Gamji Gate Zoo in Kaduna State, a wildlife charity, Wild@Life e.V, in conjunction with the Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Parks (NAZAP) has rescued the severely malnourished lion.
Francis Abioye, NAZAP National President, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Owerri that the distressed lion was trapped for five days in the zoo after a recent flood in the state. Abioye said the rescue could not be easily carried out due to lack of tranquilisers to administer on the lion to gain easy closeness to it, a situation, he said, caused the animal serious distress.
He noted that NAZAP, with the support of Wild@Life e.V initiated the rescue operation to save the animal and directed temporary closure of the zoo until the situation was brought under control.
He said the association had mobilised veterinary experts to immediately commence treatment on the animal to save it from untimely death.
“The problem started after a recent flood ravaged the park and affected majorly the cats and paddocks. Lack of equipment to tranquilise the lion and gain closeness made it impossible to rescue the animal immediately.
“An executive of NAZAP on getting the information immediately mobilised to the scene and has been able to rescue the animal, the situation is now under control,” he said.
The association’s boss said the effect of the trap caused the lion loss of appetite, massive weight loss, skin infections and other yet to be determined ailments. He said the general system failure in wildlife conservation was regrettable and urged governments to improve in the care of animals kept in captivity, especially the endangered species.
“No government in the world can care for its citizens without starting with animals. The way we care for the animals will influence the way we care for citizens,” he said.
Abioye said the association will soon commence accreditation of zoos and wildlife parks, adding that any facility that falls short of standard will be closed. He also said that the Ministry of Environment had rolled out preliminary guidelines, which would become working documents to upgrade zoos and wildlife parks in Nigeria. He added that as soon as all stakeholders and NAZAP agree on the guidelines, many zoos that fall short of standard would be closed.