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This study was intended to examine the problems and prospects of zoo management in Nigeria. This study was guided by the following objectives; to examine the nature of zoos, to examine the ethics behind zoo business, to examine the current codes of conduct in zoo management, to assess the tourism facilities, services and management strategies of zoos and to evaluate the problems and prospects of zoo management in Nigeria. The study employed the descriptive and explanatory design; questionnaires in addition to library research were applied in order to collect data. Primary and secondary data sources were used and data was analyzed using the chi square statistical tool at 5% level of significance which was presented in frequency tables and percentage. The respondents under the study were 100 staff of selected zoos in Southern Nigeria. The study findings revealed that there are significant problems and prospects of zoo management in Nigeria; based on the findings from the study, for zoos to become establishments of conservation and rehabilitation, research should be done more on visitor experiences in zoos.




1.1       Background of the Study

The “zoo” is a monument to a long-standing tradition of people’s fascination with non-human nature. Since the early societies of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Chinese, wild animals have been maintained in captivity in order to satisfy human curiosity with exotica. Most western zoos today, however, embrace far more benevolent values—supporting the conservation of biodiversity through specialized animal breeding, research, and education programs. These aims are intended to move zoos along an evolutionary continuum that will see them eventually transformed from “living natural history cabinets” to “environmental resources centers” (Rabb 1994: 162). ‘The zoo is in such a condition that it’s no longer a zoo, it’s a concentration camp… When I look those animals in the eyes, I am ashamed to be a human being.’ (Tarnavska on Kiev Zoo, Fox News Europe, 2011).


The idea and concept of zoo keeping started in ancient times (Ayodele et al., 1999) with the first animal collections for public amusement being set up in ancient Egypt and China (Fa et al., 2011). The first zoos were originally just a collection of live wild animals on exhibition (menageries) for the amusement of the public (Omonona and Ayodele, 2011). They persisted until the establishment of the first formal in Vienna in 1752 (WAZA, 2006). Zoos at this time were still aimed to satisfy the public’s curiosities. It was not until the late 18th Century that the worth of zoos as centres of scientific research was recognised (Carr and Cohen, 2011). The first scientific zoo and charity was created in 1826 in London; the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The concern for the animals’ welfare and interest in conservation of species, are recent developments, which started after the Second World War (Knowles, 2003). The World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA) now provide a common standard of practice to guide zoos worldwide.


The roles of a modern zoo includes education, captive breeding, recreation, scientific research and economic reasons (Omonona and Ayodele, 2011; Baker, 2007; Patrick et al., 2007; WAZA, 2006). A paramount objective for zoo keeping out of these roles is for recreation (Omonona and Ayodele, 2011) serving as places of relaxation and entertainment and provides opportunity for people to satisfy their natural curiosity of seeing different species of animals especially from different areas of the world. People of all ages enjoy visiting zoos because of the joy of seeing different species of animals at a specific place (Uloko and Iwar, 2011; Ayodele and Alarape, 1998; Croke, 1997). Some 1000 zoos and aquariums worldwide receive more than 600 million visitors every year (WAZA, 2005). Visiting zoos is a popular family-oriented leisure activity, usually involving a one-day visit (Ryan and Saward, 2004; Chris and Jan, 2004; Turley, 2001).


In the early 1990s the role of zoos in species conservation was one of maintaining populations of threatened species in captivity, acting as conservation arks. This function was seen as an appropriate role for zoos because of their long tradition in breeding and transporting animals. The ark concept is analogous to Noah’s Ark: Threatened species are kept in captivity until they can be safely reintroduced in the wild (Bowkett 2009). But the ark concept has been seriously challenged given its limitations such as restricted zoo space, difficulties maintaining self-sustaining populations for long periods, risks of domestication, exposure to new diseases, poor success of reintroductions, and high costs (Snyder et al. 1996). One persistent concern was that policy makers might neglect the need to protect habitats and ecosystems by over relying on zoological gardens as arks. One of the topics of discussion at the time was whether to protect species in Arks or protected areas (Balmford, Leader-Williams, and Green 1995), implying that zoos could substitute the existence of protected areas and National Parks for the protection of threatened species. Today there is no doubt that the only “Ark” is the ecosystems ark, and that captive breeding in zoos or other facilities is only a short term tool for the conservation of threatened species.


While zoos have changed significantly since their origins, further progress may be frustrated by some zoo professionals’ understandings of and reactions to significant philosophical and practical challenges. Debates about zoo policy include questions such as: what constitutes zoos’ conservation obligations? What is the moral and scientific basis of zoos? Should zoos exist at all? (Norton et al. 1995). Traditionally, zoo professionals have responded to the zoo debate by re-emphasizing zoos’ technical or logistical capabilities to deliver conservation programs. As we see it, the process of resolving the competing ideas, beliefs, and perceptions about the appropriateness and feasibility of zoos’ goals and operations is far more central than defending zoo performance. It may be that before zoos can complete their evolution, more attention must be turned towards a greater understanding of zoos’ collective decision-making processes and organizational arrangements. That is, to what degree do zoos’ organizational structures, cultures and operations impede or enable realization of their conservation goals?


One important element in effective zoo management of ex situ populations is the interaction and coordination among institutions. Many zoos participate in approximately twenty national, regional, or global zoo associations, such as the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Internet and software technology connect zoos to one another worldwide, facilitating their collection planning and species management. The International Species Information System (ISIS) is a nonprofit organization that provides zoological data collection services and software, enabling more than eight hundred zoos and aquaria throughout the world to conduct effective animal exchange programs.


The ISIS database contains information on approximately 2.6 million individuals (almost 15,000 taxa/10,000 species) and is constantly growing. Members of ISIS have access to software that provides basic biological information on animals such as age, sex, parentage, place of birth, and circumstances of death. Organizations and institutions use ISIS to manage their inventory, control the genetic and demographic makeup of their animal collections, find appropriate new animals for their collections, and locate facilities with experience in breeding and raising offspring. This information network is one of the most valuable resources zoos have for collection planning, an aspect of zoological garden work that is becoming ever more important for conservation purposes (ISIS 2012).


Zoo tourism is a niche under wildlife tourism which can be described as tourism undertaken to view and /or encounter non-domesticated animals in captive and semi-captive environment (CRC, 2001, 2008; Newsome et al., 2005). Zoo tourism in Nigeria dates back to the existence of the oldest zoological garden ‘Jos Museum Zoo’ in 1945 by for the purpose of research and tourism. Today, Nigeria has twenty two zoological gardens (Table 1) across the various geopolitical zones of the country: two are federal government owned, ten are state government owned, two are privately owned and eight are institutionally owned (seven and one by federal universities and state university respectively).

Table 1: Zoological Gardens (Zoos) in Nigeria






Jos Museum Zoo

Federal government of Nigeria



University of Ibadan Zoo

University of Ibadan



Ahmadu Bello University Zoo

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria



Agodi Garden and Zoo, Ibadan

Oyo State Government



Obafemi Awolowo University Botanical Garden

Obafemi Awolowo University



Calabar Zoo

Cross River State Government



Sanda Kyarimi Park, Maiduguri

Borno State Government



Botanical Garden, Enugu

Enugu State Government



University of Nigeria, Nsukka Zoo

University of Nigeria, Nsukka



Zoo Park, Port Harcourt

Rivers State Government



Jos Wildlife Park

Plateau State Government



Kano State Zoo

Kano State government



University of Ilorin Zoo

University of Ilorin



Makurdi Zoo

Benue State Government



Ogba Zoo and Nature Park, Benin City

Edo State Government



Ikogosi mini zoo

Ekiti State Government



Abuja Children’s Park and Zoo

Federal Government of Nigeria



Gombe State University Zoo

Gombe State University



Origin Zoo, Lagos State

Prince Abiola Kosoko



Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta Zoological Park

Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta



Prof Afolayan Wildlife Park, Akure

Federal University of Technology, Akure



Q - Brat Zoological Garden, Lagos State

Prince Sakiru Adesina Raji


Source: Adapted from Omeni 1992 (cited in Omonona and Ayodele, 2011); Uloko, 2004; Borokini, 2013

Researches on tourism in zoological gardens in Nigeria exist such as Adams and Salone  (2014) on Kano Zoological Garden; Adefalu et al. (2015) on Univeristy of Ilorin Zoo; Adekola (2015)  on Federal University of Technology Akure Wildlife Park;  Alarape et al. (2015) on Makurdi Zoological Garden; and Ayodele and Alarape (1998) on Agodi Zoo.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Zoos became popular attractions at a time when people didn’t have any other opportunities of seeing or learning about wild animals. Nowadays, many zoos still strongly state that their mission is to educate people and conserve endangered species. However, research shows that for most part, zoos exist for the sake of human entertainment and that the conservational role of zoos is questionable, even controversial.


Zoos today have come to face opposition from the public due to the way they are managed. People question the conditions of the animals as well as the ethics behind capturing them from the wild and putting them behind bars. As visitor numbers decline and the public boycotts animal-based institutions, zoos are beginning to face an ultimatum: develop or become extinct. The topic around the welfare of animals in zoos is not new, however, the ethics, behind zoo management as well as the problems and prospects is not widely discussed or researched in the academic world.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The study sought to know the problems and prospects of zoo management in Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to;

1. examine the nature of zoos.

2. examine the ethics behind zoo business.

3. examine the current codes of conduct in zoo management.

4. assess the tourism facilities, services and management strategies of zoos.

5. evaluate the problems and prospects of zoo management in Nigeria.

1.4       Research Questions

1. What is the nature of zoos?

2. What are the ethics behind zoo business?

3. What are the current codes of conduct in zoo management?

4. How are the tourism facilities, services and management strategies of zoos?

5. Are there problems and prospects of zoo management in Nigeria?


1.5       Research Hypothesis

Ho:   There are no significant problems and prospects of zoo management in Nigeria.

Hi:       There are significant problems and prospects of zoo management in Nigeria.


1.6       Significance of the Study

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.


1.7       Scope/Limitations of the Study

This study is problems and prospects of zoo management in Nigeria.

Limitations of study

Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


1.8      Definition of Terms

Zoo: A zoo is a facility in which all animals are housed within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also breed.

Management: includes the activities of setting the strategy of an organization and coordinating the efforts of its employees (or of volunteers) to accomplish its objectives through the application of available resources, such as financial, natural, technological, and human resources.



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