Kano Zoo: the Destination I Completely Underestimated

Giraffe inside Kano Zoo

If this is your first time reading this series, it’s advisable you start from here.


Entrance of Kano Zoo

In October, 2019, A lion in the Zoo escaped, killed and Ate all the goats in the zoo before being caught by rangers

This thought rang in my head for many seconds as we progressed into the facility. “May we not be unfortunate” I prayed silently.

At the entrance, we were ushered in by two young men who spoke English fluently but with a Hausa intonation. One of them explained that it costs N100 each to explore the entire Zoo on our own but we requested for a guide, so he beckoned on Abdulahi,  a much older man who was chatting with a few other workers close to the gate. Abdulahi should be in his early 50s and I imagined he must have been a really fine boy in his prime. He made us understand that we will tip him any amount we desire depending on how satisfied we get with the tour and we agreed.

We flanked him on both sides as he led us into the Zoo which looked larger than 2 standard football fields. Abdulahi started by introducing us to the Monkeys and Baboons as we watch them hop back and forth like it was some sort of fashion show. I rolled my eyes like ‘here we go again’ because it seemed like all Nigerian zoos work with the same syllabus. The entire scene looked rehearsed.

Something strange started happening as we went deeper, following Abdulahi like he held the key to our successes. We got introduced to more interesting animals, many of whom I’ve only had the honour of seeing seen on the TV and Magazines. They all had a native Hausa name and all seemed to prefer Kano to the jungle. These animals include (but not limited to) the black African dwarf cow, Zebra, Hippopotamus, and Elephants.

Lion inside Kano Zoo Antelope inside Kano Zoo Zebra inside Kano Zoo Hippopotamus inside Kano Zoo Wumi posing with an Elephant inside Kano Zoo Posing with an Elephant inside Kano Zoo Dwarf cow inside Kano Zoo Giraffe inside Kano Zoo

“I have 2 wives and 18 children,” Abdulahi said, wearing a triumphant smile. I thought I didn’t hear well until he repeated the same sentence and supporting the figures with his fingers. He smirked when he saw the shocking look we wore.

He made us understand that he told us the truth so we can consider things properly when we’re ready to tip him. We smiled in unison.

The farther we journeyed, the fiercer the sun grew,  and the stronger Abdulahi got, but the more tired Wumi and I became. All I wanted at that point was just to leave because it seemed like there were more animals than I had ever imagined we could see in a place like that.

We parted ways with Abdulahi by squeezing into his right palm a clean N500 note which seemed like a lot to him because he let out a large grin which exposed his nice set of teeth (even though they’ve been darkened slightly due to excessive chewing of Cola). He insisted we followed him to his house to meet his family but Wumi gave me a signal that that would mean another round of expenses, and I reasoned with her, so we declined politely.

As we approached the gate, he introduced us to a young boy who was working in one of the restaurants within the Zoo. This is one of my sons, he said, rubbing the young boy’s head and encouraging him to greet us in English, to which the young man was too shy to do before dashing back to where he had been washing plates in the restaurant.

We took a picture with Abdulahi before leaving but he wasn’t too happy we didn’t follow him home

We bade our goodbyes as we hopped on yet another well-decorated Kekewhich took us to the Kurmi Market, which according to history, is one of the biggest and oldest markets in Nigeria.