Wild At Life Project

Gamji Gate Zoo Rescue

Kaduna, Nigeria

Activity status: Accomplished
Area of Activity: Kaduna, Nigeria

Wild at Life e.V. received an urgent appeal from a citizen in Kaduna, Nigeria, to rescue zoo animals held in terrible condition, distressed, and left to starve in Gamji Gate Zoo. Since then, we are on an urgent mission working on the premises – providing urgent care and nutritional support to the captive animals in this horror zoo.

The problem started after a flood ravaged the zoo and affected paddocks. As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and worsening inflation, zoos in Nigeria are struggling to feed the animals due to a lack of funding and paying visitors.

The conditions at Gamji Gate Zoo

On full inspection of the zoo, the team found the enclosures inadequate for each species – no natural enrichment was provided for any of the animals’ mental and physical well-being. The zoo is not only a danger to the safety of the captive animals but also a health threat to the nearby communities. It flooded this year leaving the animals in great distress and will flood again next year.

Inventory of animals found:

  • Shadow the Lion x 1 (Male, West African Species)
  • Crocodiles x 3
  • Baboons x 2 (Male) and 1 x (Female)
  • Patas monkey x 1 (Male)
  • Ostrich x 1 (Male)
  • Tortoises x 3
  • Striped Hyena x 1 (Male)
  • Spotted hyena x 2 (Male and Female)
  • Tantalus x 1 (Female)

Diagnosis and treatments for Shadow and the other animals at the Zoo

Our lead vet, Dr Abdurrahman Mohammed, approximated the age of Shadow to be more than eight years old. The treatments given so far were based on the result of his faecal sample, including health issues like skin disease and parasitic worms. Despite the increased cost of meat, Shadow’s malnutrition is being supported with fresh meats. All animals are diagnosed with malnutrition resulting from the stress they underwent when the area was flooded by rain sometime around mid-September.

Plan of action

Shadow’s recovery will take time, we do believe he can survive this ordeal and our team will continue to provide him with the best medical and nutritional support, and we will be by his side through it all. Once he is stable, we believe the government will accept our offer of providing him and the other animals a placement at a sanctuary.

We have initiated disinfection of all pens and areas to stop contamination and the spread of germs and diseases. Daily feeding programs, which Wild at Life e.V. is fully designing and funding, are in effect, with fresh water and nutrient supplements added for optimal support. Our vet and his supporting team continue to provide medical care to all of the animals.

6 days after our urgent intervention

Shadow the lion is more stable and active. He is a very strong boy, and with just 34 wild lions left in Nigeria, we are saddened to see that he has suffered in captivity for so long. He is under treatment for mange, isospora, and helminths present in his weakened body. He is receiving vital nutrients and immune boosters, as are all others at Gamji Gate Zoo. We are fighting for his life and objectively his freedom!

We have established strong communication with the government and our mission will continue as long as we bring all the animals to safety and implement long-lasting conservation plans in the country.

Meet our on-the-ground team whom our rescues would not be successful without!

Gamji Gate Zoo is a testament

to the other thousands of horror zoos around the world. We need your support in order to shut down more of such zoos!

With you, we can turn our goals into an accomplished reality.

Update: December 5, 2020

Rest in Peace, Shadow!

From the Gamji Gate Zoo Rescue

Unfortunately, we are sad to share Shadow’s passing. Over the last few days, his condition took a turn for the worse and it was becoming clear that we were going to say goodbye sooner than expected.

Shadow lived inside a concrete cage that was his ‘home’ for the eight years of his miserable life. He never touched grass, never seen a tree or blue sky, and his disgraceful home was a state-owned zoo in an area prone to flood in Kaduna, Nigeria.

In September when his cage flooded, he suspended himself above objects to breathe for five long days while also starving. No one helped him, it was not until Wild at Life e.V. implemented an emergency plan to help all the animals in the zoo, that things started to improve. Within 24 hours, our veterinarian and team were by his side fighting for his survival.

We are heartbroken but take comfort in the fact that, for the first time in his eight years in captivity, he had the best medical care, the best nutrients-dense food, he had our team and the world fighting for his survival, but the damage done to his lungs was irreversible. The flood and the five days in water caused lasting damage and he was simply left out without any help for too long.

He had a strong will to remain alive, always greeted our team with his bright eyes and never lost his appetite and stood proud with his head above all problems. Farewell, dear Shadow.

Wild at Life e.V. has persistently pushed all negotiations with Kaduna State and we have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to make our work long-lasting. The Kaduna State has now agreed with our work plan so WE ARE CLOSING DOWN THE ZOO.

Closing down Gamji Gate Zoo

This is the first time a state-owned zoo in Nigeria will be closing due to the work of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) like us, and we are extremely proud of our intensive work – having seen large charities take seven years and spending incoming donations to take legal action, we are proud to have achieved this with the work of our passionate volunteers – this enables us to use your donation directly on the animals in urgent need. This means that all animals held at Gamji Gate Zoo will be relocated under our supervision, expert advice, and care. We have signed an MOU with the government of Kaduna State who will see the lives of the remaining animals protected and relocated. We will start to move the animals to ethical sanctuaries and reserves. They will never again face hunger, pain or exploitation.

We thank the governor of Kaduna State through Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency for bringing such a positive change. We hope other states in Nigeria will follow suit in closing down zoos and bringing animals to sanctuaries. The world would be a much better place if wildlife remained in the wild.

This is the second zoo Wild at Life e.V. has closed down and rescued animals within months apart, the first being in Burkina Faso. We will continue fighting for biodiversity and species conservation.

Update: November 21, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on la Repubblica

la Repubblica took to Instagram to shed light on the condition of Shadow the lion from Wild at Life e.V.’s Gamji Gate Zoo rescue. They also emphasized how impactful and beneficial social media can be at times like this, where viral videos provide an insight into how conditions really are in African zoos and parks. The post is in Italian.

Update: November 16, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on One Green Planet

One Green Planet provides an account of how the zoo animals kept themselves suspended on objects in order to breathe during the devastating flood. The article is in English.

Update: November 13, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on wildlifepage

wildlifepage shared our story on Shadow the lion from Gamji Gate Zoo rescue. The Instagram post is in English.

Update: November 13, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on ET Today

In this article by ET Today, the suffering of the animals in Gamji Gate Zoo was elaborated on – recent flooding that left the animals soaked, animals skinny to the bones, and some animals died of starvation due to the lack of food. The article is in Chinese (traditional).

Update: November 12, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on This Day

This Day reports on animals at Gamji Gate Zoo being found to be on the brink of starvation. The conditions of the animals were captured on video and prompted Wild at Life e.V. to start an emergency rescue mission. The article is in English.

Update: November 12, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on The Guardian Nigeria

The Guardian Nigeria offers statements made by Francis Abioye, the Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Parks’ (NAZAP’s) president about the discovery of this horror zoo.

“No government in the world can care for its citizens without starting with animals. The way we care for the animals will influence the way we care for citizens,”

The article is in English.

Update: November 12, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on FOCUS

FOCUS highlights Wild at Life e.V.’s rescue mission in Kaduna, Nigeria, where food for the animals is scarce for weeks, and how the vet is determined to save Shadow the lion. In addition, our missions in Burkina Faso (Ziniaré Zoo Rescue) and South Africa (lion canned hunting farm) were also mentioned in this article. The article is in German.

Update: November 12, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on Stern

Stern has covered the Gamji Gate Zoo rescue, highlighting the efforts of volunteers and Wild at Life e.V.’s financial support of the veterinary bills. The article is in German.

Update: November 11, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on The Eagle Online

The Eagle Online published an article on the Gamji Gate Zoo rescue that sparked outrage after videos trended on social media platforms. The Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Parks (NAZAP) has called for improvements to animal welfare in Nigeria, and plans to soon commence the accreditation of zoos and wildlife parks. The article is in English.

Update: November 11, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on Peoples Gazette

Peoples Gazette reports on the struggle of the Gamji Gate Zoo rescue, such as not having sufficient tranquillizers, as well as a statement from the Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Parks’ (NAZAP’s) president that the association will soon commence accreditation of zoos and wildlife parks – any facilities that falls short of standard will be closed. The article is in English.

Update: November 10, 2020

Gamji Gate Rescue – Published on Daily Mail

The Daily Mail offers harrowing pictures and a video of the situation at Gamji Gate Zoo, with the animals kept in concrete, unkempt enclosures. Although the crocodiles have a larger enclosure, their water is shallow and filthy. The article is in English.

This project is carried out in the following activity areas
Providing Aid in War-Torn Regions

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