I am writing to express my deep concerns over the cruel neglect that you have allowed to progress at the Benue Zoo.
I will not write much as it is all explained below.
“A society that treats animals as though they don’t matter will treat her citizens in the same way,” says Nat Apir, a concerned citizen who is trying to bring attention to the terrible plight of the animals.
A few days after a filming that took place, the lion in the video died of starvation.
Staff estimate that 80% of the animals once held in Benue state Zoo have died – mostly from starvation – which Nat Apir says has been most acute in the last three months.
“This zoo is in a total state of neglect,” says Nat. “What I see here can only be likened to cruelty.”
There are only two lions now left alive – one lion is covered in sores and is so thin that his skin hangs about his protruding ribs and bones, while the second lion remains locked up. In captivity lions should eat about 10kg of meat a day but these two lions have gone for weeks without food. Only with Nat Apir’s recent appearance have they been fed twice for the last week.
“Most of the animals are dead and those that are alive are barely struggling to survive,” says Nat, who has bought some food to feed the animals.
Only two monkeys and one chimpanzee remain alive – surviving on a handful of peanuts each day. They can be seen scraping around in the dust desperate for food. The remaining ostriches are fed weeds and last two crocodiles go for weeks without food.
The few staff remaining at the zoo are given 8000 Naira a month ($50) but it can take two to three months to get paid.
It is not the staffs fault, but rather, Nat blames the Benue state government for the terrible abuse and raises serious questions about any quarter of the Nigerian government system to establish privatisation or private-public partnerships.
“Privatisation and Public-Private partnerships should involve a transparent process where the best people are brought in to manage state enterprises and businesses,” says Nat.
Recently, the management of Makurdi Zoo was partly privatised and handed over to a company named Afric-Consulting as a co-investor together with Benue state government. They could not be reached for comment but Nat doubts the “competency” of the company to manage the zoo.
“The challenge is when there is no transparency in the things we do,” says Nat, who works as a consultant to the Benue State government on projects . “We don’t sit down in one office and begin to appoint people to come and take over our state patrimony.”
And the lack of transparency and disregard for both the animals and human concerns by the government continues:
“I tried to put a call thru to the governor thru one of his aides and the guys was just insulting and and shouting at me.”
What I will state is this the reality of the starvation to these animals whilst it is a sad fact that they will die if not placed in a wildlife sanctuary.
Finally, how can the President of this country set back very well aware of what is happening while holding a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Zoology,an M.Sc. in Hydrobiology/Fisheries biology and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Zoology?
I respectfully request that the animals contained in this cruel neglectful zoo be transferred to a sanctuary where they can be properly cared for.
I trust that upon examination of the above facts you will agree that it is in the best interest of the Nigerian Government to close this zoo down and place these animals in a sanctuary.