University of Ibadan Zoological Garden – a place to visit
In 2004, a group of people who visited the University of Ibadan Zoological Garden in Oyo state southern Nigeria, came back complaining that the place was in a mess. The animals looked very hungry that it was scary getting close to the cages. Out of curiosity to find out if the zoo has changed, I decided to pay a visit to see what the government has done to transform the zoo. Upon arrival, I was amazed to see that the entrance has been beautified, the animal cages look cleaner and the animals look healthier. There are now gazebos where visitors can sit for shade against the sun and have their social events.
The University of Ibadan Zoological Garden, which was established in 1948 as a Menagerie to support teaching and research in the Department of Zoology, with time became a full-fledged Zoo in 1974. Its collection of various wild animals soon became a major point of attraction for visitors to the university. With a wide array of exotic species from different places in and out of Nigeria, by 1979, the zoo had received almost a quarter of a million visitors, the university authority said. Years after the establishment of the zoo, the number of visitors started to fall, as it became a victim of what Nigerians call the “Nigerian factor”, which is mismanagement. Some animals became malnourished and thus died. Eventually, the zoo, which was once booming with visitors, became a ghost of itself. Popular animals, which were the favorite of visitors, like the old tortoise, the gorilla “Haruna” that usually interacted with the crowd, died and were never replaced.
According to reports, the transformation of the zoo came when the directorship of the zoo was handed over to a lecturer at the Zoological Department, Dr. Aina Adeogun, who took on the job with passion. She sourced for agencies to donate for the upkeep of the animals. The garden later became a functional recreational centre that attracted the attention of Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God who visited when he held an outreach programme in the university. He reportedly donated a million naira for the upgrade of the zoological garden. This opened the floodgate of donations by other prominent individuals, who also donated towards the resuscitation of the zoo.
During the opening of the transformed zoo, the Director of the UI Zoo, Dr. Olajumoke Morenikeji, said that the zoo went through four years of transformation with the help of the VC, some corporate bodies and individuals. She also thanked Adeboye for the donation of N45m towards the project.
The zoological garden has once again become a tourist site in Oyo state. For the first time, the zoo is fenced round with blocks. It is also a good place for photo-shoots. In case you decide to visit, a gate fee of N500 would be required before you can enter the zoo. If you are lucky, you could witness the feeding of ferocious creatures with live goats. There are also cages holding hyenas, ostrich, antelopes, camels, and goats.
Pictures of some birds and animals
A video of lions being fed at the zoo in 2013
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