#Tourism - Funaab Zoo Park

The ostriches and Goose

The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta Zoo Park serves as a veritable haven for leisure and wildlife, SAMUEL AWOYINFA writes... Tucked in a conserved forest some 200 metres away from the main gate of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta is the FUNAAB Zoo Park. Save for its imposing and massive gate at the entrance, upon which the name of the park was etched, a first time visitor might just walk or drive on without giving it any special attention.

However, the FUNAAB Zoo Park is a rich conservation area for many species of animals and plants.
Apart from serving as a resource for research for those students who offer courses in Forestry, Zoology, veterinary and botanical fields, the park also serves the general public as leisure garden to appreciate nature and see different animals in their natural habitat.

A visit to the zoological garden by our correspondent serves as an eye opener of some sort.
The various segments in the park are well designated and there are directional signs to guide the visitors as to where they are headed while inside the park, which sits on 62 hectares of land.
There are sections for birds, reptiles, and other animals like monkeys, baboons, jackals, hyenas and antelopes among others.

With a tour guide at the request of a visitor, the FUNAAB Zoo Park, offers a balanced mix of nature’s gift to man.
At the reception area was an interesting spectacle. A cage containing nine different species of birds co-habiting in unison is placed at a strategic corner.
Their harmonious co-existence, a visitor to the zoo, Sunday Adeyemi, describes as a ‘lesson to man to live and let live.’ And stepping out of the reception area, a visitor is confronted with a luscious but also rich world of flora and fauna.

A directional signpost announces another area meant for another set of birds.
These are the ostriches, mallard ducks, crown cranes, and white geese.
Again, the guide still has more. The section for nocturnal birds, owls and bats, gives a visitor a more curious gaze. Since these birds are at their best at night, a special dark scene is configured into their cage, to create the darkness for them to express themselves; though within the freedom the cage offers.

The two ostriches, a male and a female, in the park are a delight to watch, as they leisurely enjoy the early morning breeze in their ‘palace.’
The crocodiles in their natural habitat too, are cool to watch. Three of them co-exist without any fuss. Their lifestyle of living on both land and water is replicated in the upland and the pool encasement made for them.

What about the jackals, hyenas, antelopes and the monkeys?

These ones are sensitive about their contact with human beings.
The monkeys first retreat at the sight of our correspondent and the guide. One of them later poses for camera at the prompting of the guide. That one is regarded as the most restless among them.
The jackals, hyenas and the antelopes hide at the sight of a visitor. But as they are within an enclosure, they make an interesting spectacle, as they later run from end of the cage to the other, trying to escape from view.

The snakes have yet to be properly displayed, as some of them are still being kept in well secured plastic containers.
One of them is a puff adder that feeds on a whole chicken per week. On this fateful morning, the reptile is taking a nap and digesting its food for the week.
The turtle family is not left out either. There are two giant ones among them, with one weighing 63kg.
According to information, it took four able-bodied men to lift it off the ground into the van which took it to its abode.

The Director, FUNAAB Zoo Park, Dr. Moses Oyatogun, says the zoo was established two years ago by the university, for research and relaxation purposes.
He notes that since the Zoo Park combines forestry and other wildlife, all in a natural habitat, the students of departments such as forestry, botany, zoology, and veterinary medicine, use it as research outlet for their studies.

And he adds that the park also serves as a leisure and recreation garden for pupils in primary and secondary schools, students of higher institutions of learning and the general public as a whole.
He says, “ Pupils from primary and secondary schools and even tertiary institutions visit here for their excursions.Some chief executive officers who come to Abeokuta for seminars and workshops, do come here as part of their post-conference tours. Some people even hold meetings here because the ambience is a natural one, devoid of the noise and pollution of the city.”

Oyatogun, who says the zoo, which is the only one in Ogun State, is also a source of internally generated revenue for the university, adds that the management looks forward to partnership with corporate organisations within and outside the country. He also appeals to the state government and well-meaning Nigerians to support the zoo park in its developmental efforts.
He says, “We need support from international and corporate organisations in our effort to further develop the park. We want to acquire lions, zebras and elephants, and need to construct enclosures where to keep them and take care of them.

“For instance, to feed a lion, a live goat is needed every two weeks. We need to provide more relaxation spots within the park. All these cost money.”

An Abeokuta resident, Mr. Razak Ayinla, who had visited the zoo, says it is a place which gives a visitor an experience that will always make him or her to want to pay a second visit.

He adds that when compared with other established zoo parks in the country; its serenity and the beautiful topography stand it out.

Ayinla states, “For me as a person who has visited many zoo parks across the country, I want to say that the experience I had after visiting the FUNAAB Zoo Park is awesome.”
For now, the FUNAAB Zoo Park will continue to thrill its patrons for its academic and recreation offerings.

 Culled from the Punch 

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