✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters

Only six animals, 10 birds in Port Harcourt Zoo

Zero budgetary allocation in 5 years A visit to the 45-year-old Port Harcourt zoo shows that the once bubbling zoo which housed varieties of animals…

  • Zero budgetary allocation in 5 years

A visit to the 45-year-old Port Harcourt zoo shows that the once bubbling zoo which housed varieties of animals in the 80s and 90s can now boast of only six hungry looking animals and 10 birds. Infrastructural facilities are also in a state of disrepair.

The Port Harcourt zoo, which was first opened to the public in 1975, has become a shadow of itself given its dilapidated structures, dirty environment and empty cages.

The zoo has since become a parking lot for numerous customers who go to the Slaughter Market to transact one business or the other. Staff of the zoo have taken advantage of its spacious premises to make quick money from motorists who park their vehicles there for a token.

A first visitor to the zoo, located directly opposite the popular Slaughter Market, is greeted by the rustic and filthy cages. The poor drainage system in the zoo makes the compound vulnerable to erosion. The premises is always flooded after a little rainfall.

A lot of cages are empty, worn out and rusty, while the environment is filthy and unkempt. A greater part of the compound has been overtaken by weeds, a situation that exposes it to invasion of dangerous reptiles.

The once bubbling Port Harcourt zoo, which was a great attraction and tourist site for kids who grew up in the Garden city in the 80s and early 90s, now boasts of two hungry looking gorillas, two monkeys and two crocodiles. There are 10 birds comprising of two geese, one ostrich, two eagles, two turtles and three peacocks.

The only surviving lion in the zoo, according to the zoo guide, was moved out in April because of poor feeding while the huge python died in February.

The tour guide said the lion was moved out of the zoo during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Port Harcourt as a result of the inability of the zoo officials to feed it.

Directly opposite a makeshift store which houses a mini restaurant is a house were two embalmed lions were kept.

The two lions, according to the zoo official, were killed and embalmed because they attacked and killed one of their caregivers several years ago.

“They are displayed in that building as a monument for posterity. We now use it as a tourist attraction for visitors,” stated another official of the zoo.

The official attributed the poor state of the zoo to negligence by successive administrations in the state.

A resident of Port Harcourt, Gloria Uwachukwu, who spoke with our reporter, expressed dismay over the poor state of the zoo.

“There were so many animals in the zoo before such as lions, chimpanzee, gorillas, python, ostrich, elephant, crocodile and so on, which attracted people to the zoo, and it was generating money for the state. I am disappointed at the level of neglect the zoo has suffered. Previous administrations in the state did not deem it fit to fix the zoo or do anything about it.

“Before now, the zoo was the cynosure of all eyes given its strategic location. People from far and wide converged here mostly on weekends to ease off stress and enjoy life with their families in a natural environment,” he said.

He commended Governor Nyesom Wike for his recent move to reconstruct the zoo.

Another resident of Port Harcourt, who simply gave his name as Bala, said the zoo at some point became a hideout for street urchins.

“The poor state of the zoo made it vulnerable for urchins to use as hideout to carry out their nefarious activities. They run into the place the moment they rob people. If you look around, you find out that the place is not secured and that is the reason why you see all manner of people here. This is not what a zoo should look like. There is no wild life; what you have there are few animals and birds,” he said.

He called on the state government to renovate the zoo to meet international standard.

The Rivers State Executive Council came to the rescue of the zoo when it recently approved the sum of N472m for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Zoological Garden.

The State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mrs Tonye Oniyide, explained that the approved sum would be used to renovate the administrative block, museum, staff quarters, snack kiosk and the general conveniences.

Also to be rehabilitated are the retaining walls, gatehouse, outside perimeter wire mesh and remodelling of the front gate of the premises.

Mrs Oniyide said the rehabilitation when completed, would boost tourism development in the state.

However, a staff of the zoo who pleaded anonymity said the zoo has been operating on zero allocation for the past five years.

The source said that previous governments had always directed the management of the zoo to source fund for the operation of the zoo, so the zero allocation for the zoo was the reason why it is in a very poor state.

“If you look round, you will find out that the zoo is poorly funded. Look at the facilities, they are in a very bad shape. The zoo has not received any budgetary allocation in the past five years. In 2012, the state government said that it would embark on the renovation of the zoo. The State Ministry of Culture and Tourism engaged a consultant to draw out a masterplan for the renovation but nothing has happened since then,” he said.

He said that the recent approval of N472m by the state government to renovate the zoo is the best thing that has happened to the zoo in the last 12 years.

Efforts made by our reporter to speak with the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism on the budgetary allocation to the zoo was unsuccessful.

The Director of State Tourism Development Board could not also be reached for comment.

Nigerians can now earn US Dollars by acquiring premium domain names, most clients earn about $7,000 to $10,000, all paid in US Dollars. Click here to learn how to start.

%d bloggers like this: