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General News of Thursday, 13 October 2005

Source: GNA

Kumasi Zoo will not relocate - Minister

Kumasi, Oct.13, GNA - Government has no intention to relocate the Kumasi Zoo, Professor Dominic Fobi, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines announced in Kumasi on Thursday.

He said any relocation of the zoo, would affect its fortunes as it would be further from its market and commended the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11, for supporting the idea that the zoo should remain at where it is.

Professor Fobi, announced this in an address read on his behalf by Mr A. Adjei Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines at the inauguration of a 14-member Kumasi Zoo Advisory Board. He said as one of the few remaining open and green spaces within the city centre, the zoo was at risk from property developers who want the land for commercial purposes.

Professor Fobi therefore, asked the newly constituted board to deal with the agitations relating to its relocation by giving legitimacy to the existence and location of the zoo in the centre of the city. "Zoos are for recreational, conservational and educational purposes and the people of Ghana in general and Ashanti in particular should not be denied those benefits on the later of commercialization". He said due to its poor revenue base caused by low attendance, lack of sponsorship and fund raising, the Kumasi zoo had not received any major investment for many years.

Its facilities have deteriorated and exhibit size had reduced from 70 species in the 1960s to only 35 species today. As a result, the zoo is no longer the major tourism destination it used to and there is urgent need for its restoration.

Professor Fobi said there was a public concern about apparent "emptiness" of the zoo and that patrons want bigger animals but pointed out that they were more expensive to keep.

He therefore encouraged the board to work hard to improve upon the quality of service the zoo provided the public.

"While we will give the zoo advisory board free hand to operate, Government still wants to ensure that the services and responsibilities currently undertaken by the Wildlife Division are not lost in the drive to commercialize the zoo. Children should not be denied access because of high entrance fees".

Professoir Fobi asked the board not to compromise animal welfare and professional standards and said the Wildlife Division would exercise regulatory functions by its representation on each zoo advisory board to ensure that issues of professionalism, conservation and education were properly addressed.

Mr B.Y. Ofori-Frimpong, Executive Director, Wildlife Division traced the origin of the Kumasi zoo and said it was the brainchild of the Asanteman Council who recommended the establishment of a Zoological Gardens under the auspices of the Cultural Centre.

He said it was later transferred to the then Kumasi Municipal Council and said the zoo was therefore intricately linked to the Cultural Centre and the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA). Mr Ofori-Frimpong said in line with the original objectives of the Cultural Centre, the Kumasi zoo had continued to exhibit the local fauna to draw attention to the linkage between the regions rich culture and wildlife.

He said zoos everywhere in the world had not been profitable in financial terms but pointed out that the conservation education values of zoos were enormous and therefore needed to be maintained to ensure that they could continue to provide these benefits.

Nana Dr Effah Guakro, a Private Medical Practitioner and Acting Omanhene of Tuobodom on behalf of the other members of the board expressed gratitude to the Minister for the confidence reposed in them and gave the assurance that they would work very hard to raise the zoo from its present situation.

Other members of the Advisory Board are Mr Kwaku Kyei, Executive Director, Edikanfo Progressive Foundation, Mr Samuel Y. Borgor, an Accountant and Auditor, Nana Dwumo Sarpong, Timber Merchant, Professor Owusu-Addo, Architect and Planner, Dr Steve Sobotie, Principal College of Technology Education, Kumasi, University of Education Winneba, Mr Isaac K. Boateng, a retired Educationist.

The rest are Mr Kwadwo Amaka-Otchere, Chief Executive Officer Reeti Ghana Limited, Oheneba Asampong Boakye, Chief Executive Officer, Planned Public Relations, Mr Edward Asare, Business Executive, Mr Kwabena Boakye, Deputy Director of Administration, KMA, Mr Emmanuel Nimoh, Manager Kumasi Zoo, Nana Owusu Banahene, a Representative of the Asantehene and Mr Francis Adjei, Regional Director of the Cultural Centre. 13 Oct.05

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