Kano — There was serious panic yesterday among residents of Tukuntawa, Tudun-Maliki, Gandun-Albasa, Shagari quarters in Kano metropolis, following the escape of a lion from the Kano Zoological garden, Daily Trust reports.
The lion escaped from a cage in the process of transferring it into its permanent fenced environment after it was returned from Karu in Nasarawa State, where Kano State had participated in the annual agricultural show.
According to a press statement from the zoo, signed by its Public Relations Officer, Hidayatullah Garba, 13 wild species participated in the agricultural show and were all returned to Kano safely.
The statement revealed that while the remaining 12 wild species were "successfully" returned to their permanent cages by the zoo officials, the lion refused to enter its fenced location and instead jumped out of the vehicle that conveyed them to Kano from Nasarawa State.
One of the officials, who was present when the incident occurred, narrated the scenario to Daily Trust.
The official said, "We pursued the lion in our efforts to make it return its cage. But unfortunately, we could not achieve that as the lion ran into the bushy side of the garden. We pursued the lion in our vehicles trying to stop it from escaping. But the lion kept on banging our cars in its effort to escape. We struggled with it up till 10pm before we finally gave up and returned to office for safety.
"The following morning (yesterday), we continued with the search. Finally, we sighted the lion in a bushy location. But we could not make the lion to return into its cage because it defied all our efforts to lure it back to its cage. We then applied three tranquilizer injections on the lion which could not sedate it. We are preparing to inject it with the forth tranquilizer.
"I am afraid that the tranquilizer injection has expired and that was why it did not sedate the lion immediately. The management of the zoo has ordered for another tranquilizer from Abuja."
The experts from Abuja arrived at Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano around 6pm yesterday in an effort to capture the lion."
Before the move to invite the experts, the lion had been successfully lured into a fenced environment where goats were kept around 11:15am (Sunday). But the lion killed four goats and jumped into another location, killing three ostriches.
"Up till this time that I am speaking with you (2:45pm), the lion is still wandering in the ostrich surrounding. Our plan now is to stop it from going towards Dajin Tukuntawa so that it will not escape from the zoo. Our fears is that if the lion moves towards Dajin Tukuntawa which is located at the extreme end of the garden from the west, it can easily scale the wall and move into the neighboring communities of Tukuntawa, Gandun Albasa, Tudun-Maliki or Shagari quarters.
"But to be honest, we are all tired now. You know we have been battling with the lion since yesterday. None of us slept on Saturday and on Sunday morning, continued with the search. Dealing with wild animals like lion is something that requires high level of professionalism. We have to be very careful so that we do not provoke the animal. At the same time, we have to take necessary measures to prevent the lion from going towards extreme end of the garden so that it does not jump out of the garden," he said.
Our reporter saw many people around the zoo around 11:30am yesterday. Auwalu Ibrahim, one of the people that converged on the front of the main gate of the zoo, said the onlookers came to the location to witness how the wild animal would be captured when they heard about the escape of the lion on radio.
Ibrahim said they rushed to the zoo when they heard the lion was still wandering within the premises of the garden.
Another onlooker, who identified himself as Lawan Garba Sheka, said, "I was just passing by when I saw some people standing around the garden. When I inquired, one of them told me the story of the lion that escaped, while the workers of the zoo were still battling to capture it. To be honest, I will not spend much time here because I don't know what will happen in the process of capturing the lion.
"Anything can happen, this lion can scale the wall of the garden. And if that happens, only God knows the damage the lion can cause. So, I am now leaving the place. I am not here to witness how the lion can be lured to return to its cage."
Some residents of the area, who spoke to Daily Trust mostly on phone, expressed their fear about the escaped lion.
Most of the residents had to go to bed early on Saturday shortly after the news about the escape of the lion filtered into the neighboring communities.
Alhaji Muhammad Garba Isa, who said he had to shut his doors around 8pm on Saturday for fear of the unknown, stated that "Anything can happen. In this kind of situation, one has to take preventive measure to protect himself. I decided to lock my house early because I didn't know how long it would take the zoo officials to capture the lion. I also didn't know whether they could be able to capture it or not.
"And in case the lion jumps out of the fenced wall, at least, our doors had already been shut. Before it could gain access into our houses, the armed policemen that were already deployed to the garden can kill it. Honestly, my family members did not sleep on Saturday night for fear of what would happen if the lion escaped from the zoo."
Another resident, Bello Usman Tukuntawa, said he could not come out for the usual morning prayer on Sunday, adding that "We could not sleep on Saturday night when we heard about the news of the escaped lion. In fact, my wife suggested that we should relocate to another area. I had to pacify her for sometime before she finally succumbed to my request and agreed to stay.
"Most of the residents here in Tukuntawa were very scared about the unfortunate incident. People were afraid of what would happen if the lion finally escaped from the zoo. Most of the residents returned to their homes as early as 7pm and they remained indoor till the next day.
"This area, that is usual busy even in the night hours, was deserted as early as 7pm on Saturday. Even the commercial tricycles, which usually operate in the night, suspended their night operations on Saturday, following the escape of the lion," he said.
But unlike Usman, Muhammad Idris, a fish hawker, who has his business close to the zoo, said nothing stopped him from engaging in commercial activities on Saturday.
Idris said, "My belief was that since the lion was still inside the premises of the zoo, the management of the garden would inform the public to vacate the area if there was any danger for people staying around the garden. However, that was not the case. Hence I continued with my business. Of course, some people drew my attention to the development and advised me to leave the area. But I ignored them because none of them could not explain what was going on inside the zoo."
Speaking to Daily Trust on phone, the Managing Director of the Zoo, Alhaji Saidu Gwadabe, said efforts were being made to capture the lion and take it back into its cage.
Alhaji Saidu, who confirmed that the lion was still within the zoo premises, said a search team had been raised to handle the situation.
"A deputy commissioner of police was deployed to the zoo with armed policemen and an armoured tanker to take it back into its cage. We have several options for this operation.
"We have already sighted the lion and we are now trying to use that armuor and apply tranquilizer injection on the lion after which we will take it back into its cage.
"We will do our best to capture and take the lion back into its cage alive because it is an asset. We really don't want to kill that lion. We will use all available options to capture it alive. Until we have exhausted all other options and we cannot capture it, then we will kill the lion. But that would be our last resort," he added.
The managing director, who appealed to the residents to remain calm as everything was under control, said, "residents should not entertain any fear as professionals have been engaged to deploy necessary techniques to take it back into the cage. You know there is a gun, when it is shot at such animals, it would sedate it and it will sleep off," he said.
Also, the Public Relations Officer of Kano Police Command, DSP Abdullahi Haruna, said the policemen had already been deployed to the zoo to ensure that the animal does not escape.
By the time of the filing this report, the personnel at the Kano Zoological Garden were still battling to capture the lion and take it into its permanent cage.
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