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THE Association of Tourism Practioners of Nigeria (ATPN) on Tuesday called on Edo Government to set up a panel of inquiry over the encroachment of Ogba Zoo in Benin City by politicians.

According to a statement issued in Abuja by the National President of the association, Kabir Malan, the encroachment of the land would have devastating effects on tourism potentials and green areas of the state if left unchecked.

“The ongoing imbroglio between the management of Ogba Zoo and the legislators in the state over the land where the zoo is situated must not be allowed to continue.

“Already, some of the buildings within the vicinity of the zoo are being shared by powerful politicians.

“The land is being lost for personal development to the detriment of the rich forestry assets and wildlife enclosures: Systematically, the zoo is being reduced to a pitiable size,’’ he said.

He said the association would ensure that the zoo was maintained and not reduced to “the worst position than it was two decades ago”.

Malan also pledged the association’s resilience to promoting tourism in the country.

Ogba Zoo and Nature Park, established in 1915, was the first to have a legal statute backing in Nigeria.

It is located in a forest reserve area of about 20 hectares in Ogba village, Benin City, exhibiting lots of wildlife and trees for scientific and educational interests and values.