Governor Uzodimma’s 3R mantra… The Imo State Zoo and Wildlife Park connection


For those who may not know, the Imo State Zoo and Wildlife Park, along old Nekede road, Owerri West Local Government Area, is the only surviving Zoological garden in Southeastern Nigeria. It has great potentials to assist the Governor Hope Uzodinma-led administration to actualize his vision for the state which is anchored on the 3R mantra of reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery of the state.
In the seventies, the establishment, known then as Nekede Zoo, was thriving and rated the best in the South East. People from different parts of the state used to come there to buy eggs and palm oil which they resold in their local markets. I had the privilege of being there and it was a pride to the people then, as it had a large collection of animals which daily attracted excursionists and tourists to the area.
However, due to what is termed the “Nigerian factor”, embedded in corruption, ineptitude and maladministration, the Zoo suffered serious neglect and abandonment, thus, the emergence of dilapidated structures, few animals – infact, there was a time that place had only two turtles and few monkeys.
Graciously, with the dawn of the present’s political dispensation, successive governments saw the need to harness the potentials of the zoo and wildlife park in increasing their revenue generation.
And the turning point in the fortunes of the zoo and park came with the appointment of Mr. Francis Abioye, a graduate of Forestry and Wildlife Management as its General Manager. It is axiomatic that if you know where you are going, you will find it a lot easier to get there. Mr. Francis Abioye, a man of integrity, great leader and inspirator, who has the drive for perfection and passion for his job knew where he was going and went headlong, walking his talk, thus, ‘the transformation that is ongoing at the zoological garden.
He said that in-spite of the daunting challenges confronting the establishment, he sees his job as a calling – a fellowship that has gone beyond payment of salary or allowance, and can only have peace of mind or joy seeing that the animals and staff are comfortable and happy.
The General Manager has therefore set up a 7-point agenda, aimed at transforming the Imo State zoo and Wildlife Park to one of the best in West Africa. They Include: To uplift the zoo to an acceptable standard by improving the animal stock, especially the crowd-pullers; the rehabilitation and rebuilding of all collapsed cages, as well as, the improvement on the feeding of the animals.
Others are: The digitization of the zoo with an ultra-modern administrative block, automated ticketing, gifts shop, event center and eatery; creating wildlife park by constructing modern Semi intensive range paddocks for animals life Giraffes, Zebras, Elands etc, with electric fencing installation and game viewing park; sola power generators, biogas, the establishment of adult and children amusement centers for tourists, as well as, setting up an agro-entrepreneurship skill acquisition center through developing indigenous bio-technology. Mr. Abioye also disclosed his plans to train over 100 youths across the 27 local government areas of the state in grasscutter production-a money spinner, free of charge.
He pointed out that if funds are provided to enable him actualize the ongoing transformative agenda, the state will be the better for it, as it will not only assist the state government in increasing its revenue generation, but will help in reducing the escalating unemployment, with the state being a tourist destination, being the only surviving zoo in the southeast.


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