Zoo under fire after starved camel goes viral
A zoo in Nigeria stands accused of animal cruelty after a photo of a frail-looking camel surfaced online. Tunde Sawyerr, said he was visiting the National Children's Park and Zoo in the capital city of Abuja when he spotted the animal."Before you put animals in a place, there are certain things to do. If there was any animal that stood out in terms of it being malnourished, and it not being taken care of, it was the camel," Sawyerr told CNN. The zoo's deputy director of wildlife, Aminu Muhammed, denied Sawyerr's allegation that the camel was malnourished."The camel about some months ago was down with a heavy skin infection and was very lean. So we had to collect a fecal sample, blood sample, and equally even scrape some of the skin to determine which medicine we can use to treat the skin disease and we had done that," he told CNN. But Sawyerr who went to the zoo with his three-year-old daughter, said his daughter was unable to identify the camel. "She knows what a camel looks like on TV, a deer, a donkey, and a monkey," he said. "She was able to recognize all of them apart from the camel."He posted the picture of the animal on Twitter with the caption "saw this former camel at the Abuja zoo." The post quickly went viral. The zoo's deputy director Muhammed said that the heavy rains affected the camel's health but the zoo has given the animal adequate medical attention."The camel is an albino camel. They are desert animals and it's just a young one, so it's just trying to acclimatize that's why it comes down with that (skin infection)," Muhammed said, adding that animals at the zoo undergo regular checkup every three months.He, however, admitted that the park needed more funds to take care of the animals."We (the zoo) really need to improve some of our structures… we equally need to bring in more animals to attract more visitors." Muhammed told CNN.Jon Justin Williamson, the lead investigative officer at the International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa disagrees with the zoo's authorities."That camel has more than a skin infection, sadly," said the environmental and botanical scientist."This is a dromedary, a juvenile Arabian camel, which I can see is very sick and very malnourished. There's little suitable food on the ground for the animal to even graze on, which unfortunately will eventually lead to its slow and painful death," Williamson told CNN.Arabian camels need a varied diet of salt bushes, grass, shrubs, acacia to thrive, otherwise, they die, he added.The size of the camel's "small hump" showed it had suffered some food deprivation."Camels will store fats which is fibrous tissue in their hump which acts as a reserve food store, meaning if there is little food on the ground, they'll then revert to the hump, pretty much how we humans do," Williamson said.Nigerian zoos have been accused of starving wildlife animals in their care, local media reported a case of skeletal lions in a zoo in Obafemi Awolowo University, in south western Nigeria.