The Kumasi Zoo


Zoos are not the same the world over and so Camille, Jeremy, Allison and Nauzley hied it on downtown to the National Zoological Garden to see what flavor of zoo they have in West Africa. – June 8, 2013




Hearses and ambulances are lined up along the compound wall around the downtown morgue which Nauzley pointed out is larger than its sister hospital.

Once we reached the zoo entrance, we were engulfed by a group of youngsters who cheerfully asked us to pay their way into the zoo.




As we approached the main entrance, we thought we could see little hooves underneath the door and sure enough, there were animals attached to them. Nauzley gives a yell after this little fella licked her foot. They looked pretty innocent but if messed with, were quick to whirl around and show off that kicking action donkeys are famous for.




Allison couldn’t believe her eyes when she realized the camels were not tethered, either. We had to wonder how often one of them simply strolls out the entrance gate onto the busy streets of downtown Adum. Nauzley is keeping her eye on this camel who seems to be working on a wad of spit.



The list of animals was impressive. Within in a couple of hours we had seen most of them. The kids in the background seem unsure of what to make of am unconcermed camel.




Think Central Park or the Bronx Zoo – exotic animals, many of them free ranging, framed by buildings, billboards and traffic noise. We were pleasantly surprised to find recycling cans in prominent display. Another first in Kumasi here. In fact, the grounds and cages were surprisingly clean and tidy. For awhile, we felt as if we had entered another world.




This little African elephant totally captured our attention. She is just a baby and new to the zoo. The only information we could find online was that she had wandered into a village and was adopted by the zoo in the early months of 2012. Until recently, she has been in the nursery, getting used to her handlers and new surroundings. According to one source, her tusks will erupt at 16 months but do not show externally until 30 months, which would put her age at under 3 years because so far, no sign of those cool little external teeth.

Now that she has access to visitors it seems she is quite outgoing. I’m sure she must be lonely as elephants are highly social and not meant to live alone. Although she has a large enclosure, she chose to hang out by the fence and greet the Obronis. Jeremy was amused when she reached out to touch his shoe.




Allison encouraged the baby to open her mouth so we could get a good look inside. We don’t know enough about elephant dentition to tell her age but the absence of tusks indicate a very young animal.




Elswhere, it was business as usual. The duikers happily chomping on chopped okra, the ostriches pecking away at their breakfast.




Baboons and chimpanzees greeted us from behind bars, hoping for a treat. Soft drinks, biscuits and bananas were for sale on the grounds and there were no restrictions about feeding them to the animals.




Allison, Jeremy and Nauzley couldn’t resist reaching out to one gregarious chimp and were surprised to find their grip very human-like.




Many of the zoo animals found their way here because they wandered into the city or their parents were killed for bush meat. It was good to see a tutorial placard advising people not to indulge in chimpanzee steaks. All in all, the zoo is doing what zoos do best, raising public awareness while providing homes to orphaned animals. Naturally, they must do this within a developing-world budget and so to many first-worlders, might seem cruel and inadequate.




We walked from the zoo to Nauzley’s place which required crossing super-busy Okomfo Anokye Road in downtown Adum. To keep our focus, we picked a spot on the other side before lurching across four lanes of traffic. As we drew near our target, a port-o-potty, we saw the “Please Urinate Here” signs and noticed it was located in front of a wall painted with the words “Do Not Urinate Here”.


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