Port Harcourt zoo is a joke. Yes ke!!!
In the midst of the busy Slaughter Junction area in Port Harcourt is a zoo. Except you were born in the 90s in Port Harcourt and you grew up with parents ready to take you to the zoo, you probably would not know it existed.
Titi highlighted the zoo as one of the must-see places in Rivers state. She visited the zoo a lot as a child. “The zoo has plenty animals,” she said. The problem is Titi hasn’t visited the city zoo in over 10 years. Everything had changed.
We arrived there at noon.
The security/gatekeeper looked very uninterested. “We are here to see the animals,” I said. And he replied N200 in the bluntest and rudest manner. We sorted the bills and walked in.
She was shocked, I was shocked, even the animals were shocked to know that people still had interest in visiting.
There is a mini bar [beer palour] by the gate and a banner/backdrop that has the collage of all healthy looking animals. The animals in the banner look nothing like the animals we saw. The animals we saw were looking skinny and depressed.
We walked through the zoo and most cages were empty. The cages with animals were looking unkempt.
The Gorilla Named Chinedu
The zoo houses just one snake. A huge one. It is kept in a well like cage covered in wire gauze. The problem is, some parts of the gauze are worn out. Though the snake is too big to pass through the worn out part, its tongue is not.
The thought of seeing this snake harming a visitor is scary!
One animal stood out, the gorilla, Chinedu. Despite the stiff atmosphere and dirty cage, the gorilla had its showmanship game on 100%. It jumped, somersaulted, played with its ball, played dead, drank water, basically did everything to keep us glued.
The men chilling at the bar joined us and started calling on Chinedu in the most aggressive indigenous tone ever. “Chinedu, Chinedu, Chinedu,” they called. And when Chinedu did not acknowledge their call, they threw empty plastic, nylon and all sorts of items into its cage.
That explains the dirt. Really?
I was extremely irritated. In the most polite manner, I asked them to stop throwing items at Chinedu. Thankfully, they stopped and we didn’t have to turn the zoo into a battle zone.
The Port Harcourt Zoo And The Killing Of Lions
The most emotional animal to see were the lions. They were so skinny they could pass as skinny dogs with big heads. Just two of them, My guess of different sexes.
According to the men at the bar, there were more than two lions. Four Lions. One of the men told us that the lions attacked their caretaker in 2010. They were killed and embalmed immediately.
The others said the lions were killed under the instruction of the then Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi. “The governor was in need of a lion internal organs for rituals for his re-election, so he ordered them to kill and embalm them.”
At this point, you have to choose your most interesting or logical reason to why there are two embalmed lions in Port Harcourt Zoo.
The Abundance Of Birds
We played ‘animal guessing’ through this visit as there were no labels on the cages. One thing they seemed to have in abundance were birds. About five birds.
There are two monkeys, one gorilla, two skinny lions, about three birds I can’t identify, two peacocks, a huge snake, two ducks, a horse, a deer, a tortoise and a crocodile. This pretty much makes up the Port Harcourt zoo.
The highpoint of this zoo would be the location. It is located in the city center. This means if maintained and equipped adequately, it will be one attractive attraction!!!
TBH, I still can’t get enough of the ‘sand carpet’ and it’s backdrop. The backdrop has a panda in it… Really? At the end of this tour, we treated ourselves to a good southern Boli and Fish dish. It was worth it.
Port Harcourt zoo should rank the worst zoo in Nigeria.