Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has called for the review of the governance structure of the Ogba Zoological Garden and Nature Park to reposition it as a world class zoo.
Obaseki made the call during a courtesy visit by the management of the zoo to the governor, at Government House in Benin City, the state capital.
He maintained that with the zoo’s large and diverse animal population, the most diverse in the rain forest region of the country, a broader governance structure that will boost its eco-tourism potential, is required.
“There is need to set up a team comprising experts who have experience in the management of zoos to look at the laws setting up the zoo.
“We need to know the level of diversity in the zoo and what type of insurance policy is needed to protect the facility.”
The governor noted that government’s intervention could be in the area of remediation, adding:
“Ogba Zoo is part of our rainforest that is quickly disappearing. I appreciate the zeal which you have invested in this precious project, to keep the zoo alive over the last two decades, in spite of several challenges.
“I believe the zoo should be preserved, so we would give a ninety-day window to reflect on the governance structure of the zoo and thereafter come up with plans of how we want it to look, going forward,” Obaseki said.
He assured that the security of the zoo would be included in the state government’s security architecture, due for launch on December 13.
Earlier, the Managing Director of Ogba Zoological Garden and Nature Park, Mr Andrew Ehanire, commended the governor for his interventions which have saved the zoo from destruction.
Ehanire explained that Ogba Zoological Garden and Nature Park remains the only zoo in the country that has successfully transited into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework, essential to operating on a self-sustaining basis.
He however noted that in the last 15 years, the zoo has witnessed threat of losing more than 70 per cent of its land and other assets.
He appealed to the state government to grant the renewal of the Ogba Zoological Garden and Nature Park lease agreement to facilitate its urgent repositioning.
“We are currently working on the lease renewal. We are committed to the rapid execution of important pilot schemes in sustainable use of natural resources, including breeding programmes for community empowerment.
“Other planned projects include the construction of a purpose-built conservation education centre, a 50- room eco-lodge, incorporating traditional architecture, amongst others.”