Tourism: Kogi Gets First Zoo

The Federal Government on Thursday Commissioned the first zoo located in the history of Kogi State North Central Nigeria with a charge on all stakeholders to key into the present administration’s commitment to improving the nation’s economy through tourism.

Speaking at the Commissioning of the Federal University Lokoja Zoo and Conservatory, (FULZAC), the Conservator General, National Park Service Dr Ibrahim Musa Goni said travel and tourism in Nigeria are estimated to contribute about 3.6% of Nigeria’s GDP annually, which is equal to around 17.3 billion U.S dollars.

He said, ” According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), approximately 180 million people visit AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums each year, contributing about $24 Billion to the US Economy.

“The establishment of this zoo and conservatory demonstrates a moment of hope and pride for our country’s conservation efforts. As a nation rich in natural and cultural diversity, the protection of our natural resources has always been of utmost importance. Therefore, the establishment of this centre holds immense significance.

“I must sincerely commend the visionary leadership of the Federal University Lokoja, led by Prof. Olayemi Akinwumi and his Management team, for recognizing the need to create this centre dedicated to the conservation and preservation of our unique flora and fauna.

“By doing so, they have established an institution that will not only contribute to the academic growth of its students but also serve as a symbol of environmental stewardship and education for the wider community.

He disclosed that the role of zoos and conservatories in the preservation and protection of biodiversity cannot be overstated, adding that they serve as living laboratories, fostering deep understanding and appreciation for the natural world.

The Conservator General opined that through effective collaboration between academia, conservationists and the government, this centre has the potential to lead innovative research, engage in relevant conservation initiatives, and create a platform for public awareness and education.

Dr Goni said, “They can also contribute to the conservation of endangered plant and animal species. These facilities are important educational tools, providing visitors with the opportunity to learn about different species and ecosystems.

“They also serve as genetic reservoirs for rare species, helping to maintain genetic diversity. Additionally, zoos and conservatories promote sustainable tourism. Zoo and wildlife parks are aspects of ex-situ conservation where animals are domesticated and bred to support in situ conservation in National Parks and Protected and Conserved Areas. This is because zoo animals can be reintroduced back into the wild to stem the tide of extinction and disappearance of species.

“I have full confidence that the Federal University Lokoja Zoo and Conservatory will become a symbol of excellence in conservation, where students, researchers, and the general public can come together to celebrate and protect our rich biological heritage, With a team dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability, the possibilities for conservation education, research, and public engagement are unlimited.

” Let us seize this opportunity and work hand in hand to safeguard the nature that makes our country extraordinary. Together, we can ensure a coexistence between humans and nature, securing a Sustainable future for generations to come”.

The Director of the Zoo, Prof Jacqueline Azumi Badaki commended the pragmatic leadership of the institution led by Prof Akinwunmi for his efforts in ensuring that the establishment of the project sees the light of the day.

” Ours is not just a Zoo but also a conservatory Zoo generally is where animals are housed within enclosures replicating their natural habitats. Often the purpose is to display animals to the public, and in some cases, the animals are bred for conservation, education and research purposes.

“The main benefit of any Zoo is the ability to save species from the brink of extinction and start a healthy wild population again. With the ever-changing wild landscape being ripped apart by climate change and habitat loss, captive breeding programs are needed more than ever to assure the survival of some species that cannot survive on their own” she stated.

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