The Ministry of Tourism in Plateau on Saturday said it was planning an elaborate naming ceremony for its new “Lion King Lalong” brought in from the Sanda Kyarimi Zoo in Maiduguri. The Commissioner for Tourism, Mr Peter Mwankon, told newsmen in Jos that the prime beast was named after Gov. Simon Lalong in appreciation of his commitment to the tourism sub-sector of the state’s economy. He said that the one-and-half-year-old cub replaced the older lion killed last year following its escape from cage during routine feeding in the Jos Wildlife Park. Mwankon added that authorities regretted the killing of the lion which was due to some limiting circumstances. He explained that the involvement of marksmen from the military and the police in tracking and killing the lion was to save the immediate community from danger as it could have turned untamed. The commissioner said it was unfortunate that some animal rights campaigners claimed that the act constituted cruelty to animals. He noted that the new replacement was through a trade by barter with the Sanda Kyarimi Zoological Park in Maiduguri, Borno, to add to the tourism potential of the Jos Wildlife Park. He described the lion as a prime attraction to the park, expected to boost the state’s Internally Generated Revenue and developmental projects. He gave an assurance that the management of the park had put modalities in place to forestall animals escaping from their cages within the park. “The administration of Gov. Simon Lalong is poised to ensure the escape saga of last year does not occur again and more varieties of animals are acquired. “The state government is also working toward getting tranquilizers in quelling animals when an escape incident occurs rather than kill them. “Such drugs require some bureaucratic process to get because of its function.” Besides, he said, more personnel were being trained on captivity skills, animals’ husbandry and other related skills to build their capacity in discharging their duties. NAN reports that the lion escaped from its cage during one of its routine feedings last year and it was killed as the authorities lacked the means to recapture and return it alive.

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