Warning: This article includes content some readers may find disturbing
A wildlife NGO has intervened and begun a rescue mission after a distressed visitor reported an emaciated lion and numerous sick, starving animals at a run-down zoo in Nigeria.
After paying a $1 entrance fee, the visitor entered the state-run Gamji Gate Zoo in Kaduna, northwestern Nigeria, to be faced with unprecedented horrors inside. He then called WildatLife.e.V for urgent assistance.
"I was so surprised," the visitor, who remains anonymous, explained to Jam Press, according to The Dailymail. "I felt so nervous and uneasy because it was my first time seeing a lion live. ... Actually, most of the animals in the zoo are not well-fed," he continued. "They lack proper treatment or, let me say, malnutrition."
WildatLife.e.V, an international NGO based out of Germany, dispatched experts to Nigeria to investigate, according to a news release. The team quickly concluded it was "the worst zoo we have ever inspected."
Photos of Shadow the lion, the animal whose wretched state first prompted the alarm call, have shocked netizens around the world. In a statement to the Daily Mail, WildatLife.e.V explained that it has not yet been viable to relocate Shadow, who was found in a cement cage, to a sanctuary given his critical condition; thus, they are working closely with Nigerian officials, and the lion is being treated on-site.
Besides the lion, two hyenas, baboons, monkeys, crocodiles, turtles, red-necked ostriches, a civet, and numerous smaller species were also found malnourished inside filthy metal-caged enclosures.
"We temporarily closed down the zoo with the support of local authorities," the NGO explained in the news release. The site, they revealed, had allegedly started to suffer after a flood, mainly affecting the lion and hyena paddocks. The animals, so the team was told, could not be reached or fed for five days.
"Affected animals could only survive the flood by suspending themselves above some objects for those five days to breathe, while their entire bodies were submerged in the flood," the NGO continued. "This continued with loss of appetite, loss of weight, skin infection, and other unknown ailments, due to lack of equipment to aid close examination and treatment."
WildatLife.e.V sent veterinarians to administer urgent treatment and food, fully funded by the NGO itself. Since the intervention began, all animals are "drastically improving."
The NGO, whose ongoing work is reliant upon donations, is welcoming pledges on its website.
The WildatLife.eV team, Carly G. Åhlén, and Asli Han Gedik are spearheading an investigation with the collaboration of the Kaduna State government and The Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Parks. The team hopes to get to the bottom of the profound neglect at Gamji Gate Zoo and help ensure it never happens again.
Speaking to The Epoch Times via email, a WildatLife.e.V representative explained, "We need all the support we can get to continue to rescue [the animals] and hopefully take them to our sanctuary for safety once they are in stable conditions."
The intervention at Gamji Gate Zoo occurs just weeks after the NGO rescued 47 dying animals from Ziniaré's Zoo in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The private zoo was similarly exposed for leaving its animal residents locked up and starving; after an urgent fundraising effort, WildatLife.e.V won power of attorney and closed the zoo to the public in hopes of reformation.
With funds raised but much more needed, WildatLife.e.V updated their Instagram followers on Oct. 23: "The 47 animals now have a feeding program implemented," they wrote, "and a team working alongside them to better their medical health, provide enrichment, and provide fresh food and water."
Both rescues exemplify the NGO's ongoing mission to prevent suffering in all zoos that hold wildlife captive for profit.