Yesterday, Nigeria celebrated her 53rd year of independence. To celebrate the occasion, we took our gate-guard’s two daughters, Kande and Hadiza, to Jos zoo. We had taken them to the wildlife park some months ago, and ever since they had been telling us “We want to see the ‘zaki’ (lion) again”. Amazingly, in almost 8 years in Jos, I had never been to the zoo either, even though it’s only about a mile or so from our house.
The kids were fascinated by all the animals, and even plucked up the courage to have a brief horse-ride. There were several large birds there, including a few majestic crowned cranes, with their spikey mohicans making them look like Roman centurions. When Kande saw one, she called out to it: “Come, I will plait your hair”. Priceless.
The other highlight was the chimpanzee who after being given some peanuts, was happy to dance upon request, at least for a few seconds, before extending her long leathery hand through the bars to beg for some more nuts. More striking to me however was the sign on the enclosure which read: ‘Wadan nan naman daji suna da fadah’ which means ‘These bush-meats are dangerous’! That’s like having a sign on a wild pig enclosure which says “These pork chops can be dangerous”. (Hausa does have a general word for ‘animal’, which was used on a very similar sign on the lion enclosure for example).