What qualifies an enclosed space to be called a zoological park, an animal park or a menagerie? I guess the answer is the presence of wildlife of distinct kinds.
I took a trip to National Children’s Park and Zoo sited at the foot of Aso hills, Adjacent Abuja Plant Nursery, off Murtala Muhammed Expressway, Abuja. I was bored at home and decided to look for something of interest. It was a long holiday, many thanks to Islamic Eid-el-Fitr. I was tired of unwinding at ice cream joints, sharwama spots, beer parlours and game centres. So off I drove to the hills.
Seven years ago was the last time I visited a zoo. It was Ogba zoo at the ancient city of Benin. I thought it would be fun to see wildlife after such a long time but I was heartbroken when I got to the National Children’s Park and zoo. The zoo was practically empty. The king of the jungle was missing. There was no elephant to salute. No animal of interest to attract attention save monkeys displaying their jumping dexterity. The crocodiles had their mouth perpetually open and motionless. I think they were sculpted. The two crocodiles hated their habitat. It was the dirtiest water I have ever seen. For the period I observed, they were outside the water.
I spoke with a few fun seeking Nigerians, they were more disappointed than I was. In less than 15minutes I was done. No more animals to see. So my N400.00 gate pass had expired? There was a litany of human beings especially children playing and horse riding. There was only one horse. The queue to ride on it was more than the queue we see at filling stations during fuel scarcity. I stood for over five minutes staring at people and reminiscing on my next destination. Luckily for me, it is not just a zoo, it doubles as a park. I settled to play tennis for the remainder of the time I had to spare. I eventually forgot my disappointment earlier.
The place is not qualified to be called a NATIONAL park and zoo. There is nothing national about it. It is even more sickening to learn that it was commissioned few years ago by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.