How did Panimale begin?
(Written by Founder, Novalis YAO)
Since I was a child, plants and animals have always attracted me. During my childhood, I created a small garden and raised guinea pigs, pigeons, rabbits, a turtle, a chicken and (many other creatures). My ultimate goal was to become a veterinarian to take good care of them.
Unfortunately there were no veterinary schools in Ivory Coast at that time. The closest veterinary school in a French-speaking country was in Dakar, in Senegal. This continues to be the case even today.
My father had a close friend, a white American English teacher belonging to the Peace Corps. He has known me since I was 6 months old. When I was fourteen years old, he told me that he would be happy to take care of my veterinary studies in the United States if I got my high school diploma. I was very excited at the idea to attend a veterinary school in the United States. So I got my high school diploma in 1996.
In the meantime, the friend of my father encountered some professional and personal problems, which forced him to return to the United States in 1993. I did my best to stay in touch with him, but he was no longer able to keep his promise.
From 1996 to 1998, I studied life science at the University of Abobo Adjame, in Ivory Coast in the hopes that I would be able to sit for an entrance exam for the veterinary school of Dakar. But this did not happen either, because there were always student strikes and political turmoil which caused classes to be cancelled due to safety reasons.
I learned in my personal research at the cultural center of the United States in Abidjan in 1998, that to be accepted as a student in a veterinary school, I would need prior exposure with animals supervised by an experienced veterinarian. Therefore, I decided to do an internship at the National Zoo of Abidjan.
I wrote a letter to the director, Dr. Jeannot Frederick Ahoussou, who was a Veterinarian Inspector and wildlife specialist. Although he did not answer my letter, I managed to have an appointment with his secretary and met Dr. Ahoussou in person.
Fortunately, after the meeting he accepted me as a trainee. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I learned a lot—more than I was expecting. The topics of my internship were: Classification, Behavior, Wildlife Medicine and Organization and Purpose of a Zoological Park.
This internship gave me the opportunity to meet veterinarians, botanists, ornithologists, and biochemists: the whole scientist family!
It was an awesome experience; the zoo workers liked me and even the director was a very caring person.
But during my internship, which lasted about 8 months, I noticed that the animals were not in a very good shape and at that time the current director agreed with me. But he confessed that he could not do much about the situation, because he was a civilian worker with a very limited budget.
So I got in touch with the WWF -World Wild Fund antenna in Ivory Coast to see if they could help. Unfortunately, they told me that they could do nothing because the animals were captive.
I was very surprised by their answer and disappointed. So I asked this question: Whether they are captive or free, are they not all still animals? I was very sad and reported the story to a friend. My friend, listened to me and then told me this: « in my opinion you are perfect to speak up for these animals». I agreed with him.
The director used to introduced me to his visitors in these terms « this guy is one of my trainees and he is really passionate about animals. » In memory of the director’s comment and to protest against the position of the WWF, I decided to call the organization « Passion for all animals. » In fact I did not want to discriminate against any animals.
So this is how “Passion for all animals” or in french “Monde Animal En Passion” alias Panimale was born.
Work towards the emergence of an Africa where animals are treated with love and humanity as in the past, where many African traditional practises were respectful of animal welfare!
Why did we develop LGVA?
(Written by Founder, Novalis YAO)
From August 12th to 13th, 2000, the newly founded organization “Monde Animal En Passion” launched an opinion poll in the National Zoo of Abidjan to estimate the awareness of its visitors on animals’ issues in Africa. The project was greatly welcomed by the public.
Based on the report of my internship, in December 2001 we launched a petition called: SOS Captives Animals of the National ZOO of Abidjan.
Indeed, animals were suffering as a result of their living conditions, including being underfed and wounded by inappropriately maintained habitats.
Unfortunately, the new director of the zoo at that time was very wary of the project. You have to know, they had been a coup d’état in 1999 and the country wasn’t stable politically.
During this time, the former director, who had been caring and understanding had moved to France. To put it succinctly, the new director was not receptive to the petition and he was often unfriendly.
The organization was very young, with no financial means. Because of the politically sensitive nature of the petition, the organization began to attract some undesirable forms of media exposure. I became afraid that the organization and its motives would be misunderstood, because of the negative media, and decided to pursue another avenue.
Even though I owed so much of my knowledge and experience to the Abidjan National Zoo, and even though it was an important starting point in my work with animals, I knew that was not in a position to help the animals at the zoo.
It was the Zoo of the Ivorian Government. They were too strong!
“LGVA “means “Let us Give a Value to Animals” and its core purpose is to teach people at an early age animal welfare concepts.
Free or Captive they matter!!!
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