The only surviving chimpanzee at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), zoo has passed on aged 50.
Chris Okoye, a professor at the university and head of department (HOD), Zoology and Environmental Studies, told NAN on Wednesday, that the mammal died of old age two weeks ago and has been embalmed.
According to him, staff and students of the department feel bad that the only surviving chimpanzee in the zoo has died, though as a result of old age.
“As the tradition of the department, the chimpanzee has been embalmed and deposited in the department’s Museum for practical and for people on excursion to the museum to see,” he said.
“We do not eat or bury animals in our zoo when they die, rather we embalm and keep them in the museum.”
The HOD said a female chimpanzee — usually referred as the wife of the recently deceased chimpanzee — died five years ago and since then the male chimp had been lonely.
“Efforts to replace the female chimpanzee as well as some other animals that died in the zoo hit ‘brick-wall’ due to lack of fund,” he said.
On why zoos were gradually becoming extinct in the country, the HOD attributed it to low yielding revenue from zoos.
“It costs huge amount of money to buy animals like chimpanzees, lions, and elephants as well as to feed them,” he said.
“The N50 or N100 collected at the gate from visitors as ticket is not even enough to feed these animals not to talk of maintaining them or getting a replacement when any of them dies.
“That may be the reason many people do not venture into zoo business because they know there is no profit in it; it is just for fun and sight-seeing.”
He, however, said, zoo was very important as it provided protection for endangered species of animals as well as served as a place for people to get connected to nature.
“Zoos play important roles in wildlife conservation, research and education,” he said.
“Both federal and state governments should do something urgently to improve funding of zoos in the country else, in the next 10 years, zoos may completely go into extinction.”
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