Zoo is accused of animal cruelty after picture of malnourished camel goes viral

After a visitor posted a photo of a frail-looking camel, the National Children's Park and Zoo in Abuja, Nigeria, is being accused of mistreating the animals under their care. However, the zoo's deputy director denied the claims.

Tunde Sawyerr was visiting the popular zoo with his 3-year-old daughter when he noticed the bad condition of a young camel and decided to snap a photo of it. He shared it on Twitter and captioned it “Saw this former camel at the Abuja Zoo.”

People’s reaction was immediate. While some made fun of the situation, animal lovers soon joined the conversation to attack the zoo for their negligence in taking care of the animal.

Speaking to CNN about what he saw, Sawyerr said:

“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.”

He also revealed that even though his daughter can recognize certain animals from TV, she was unable to identify the camel seeing it face to face.


But the zoo's deputy director of wildlife, Aminu Muhammed, is denying Sawyerr’s claims, stating that the camel looks like that because it's been suffering from a skin condition in addition to trying to acclimatize to its surroundings.

He revealed to CNN that a few months ago the young albino camel came down with a skin infection that was only worsened by the heavy rain, so the zoo’s staff had to collect some samples from the animal, including the scrape of some of the skin, to determine which medicine to use to treat the condition.

“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.

He added that all the animals in the zoo go through a medical check-up every three months.

Even though he insisted the camel was “fine,” he admitted that the zoo needs more funds to improve their structure and purchase new animals to “attract more visitors.”


However, Jon Justin Williamson, a member of the International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa disagrees with Muhammad’s statement.

The environmental and botanical scientist believes the camel has more on its plate than just a skin infection. “This is a dromedary, a juvenile Arabian camel, which I can see is very sick and very malnourished,” he stated.

“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.”

Camels are desert animals that need specific nutrients on their diet which comes from a variety of salt bushes, grass, acacia and shrubs in the wild.

The animal’s small hump is a clear sign of its malnourishment, as camels tend to store fat in their humps, and when food’s scarce, they turn to their reserves.


On a similar note, 11 neglected animals were rescued from the Safari Park Zoo in Mbrostar in Fier County, Albania, a few days ago.

When images from the inside of the zoo and the poor state the animals inside had hit were leaked, the international animal protection organization Four Paws started to work to evacuate all the animals from the zoo dubbed “Europe’s worst zoo” and the “zoo from hell.”

Even though For Paws have been investigating the Safari Park since 2015, they had a lot of legal restrictions on the way, until finally, they were able to rescue 11 animals, including three lions and a three-legged beard, with the support of the Albanian Ministry of Tourism and Environment.

The owner of the zoo was not informed about the rescue for safety reasons, and police had to break the entrance of the place to allow the Four Paws team access to the animals.

Marc Gölkel, a veterinarian of the team, told News AU:

“What we saw was shocking: dirty little concrete enclosures with desolate animals inside. The animals are all in bad conditions. Lenci, the lion, suffers from a proliferation on the conjunctiva of his left eye that needs to be treated. The three-legged female bear Dushi is very emaciated and has clear behavioral disorders.”

But Petrit Osmani, the owner the zoo, denies the claims. He believes his animals are not malnourished or sick and told AFP: “You don’t have the right! These animals are my children. You are taking away my children!”

The animals are receiving the treatment and attention they need and have been momentarily transferred to a zoo in Albania’s capital Tirana.

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