Colleagues pay tributes to OAU zookeeper killed by lion

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Colleagues of the late Olabode Olawuyi, a Veterinary Technologist in charge of the zoological garden of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Olabode Olawuyi, killed by a lion in the garden, on Monday held memorial service in his honour.

Olawuyi was killed by a lion at the zoological garden on Monday, February 19, while trying to rescue a subordinate that was attacked by the animal.

At the memorial service organised by the National Association of Academic Technologists, attended by members of the family of the deceased, his colleagues, classmates, the leadership of unions on the OAU campus, and representatives of the management of the university, participants recalled Olawuyi’s heroic act.

They demanded preventive measures to forestall the recurrence of such incidents.

In his tributes at the event held on the campus of the university, the chairman of NAAT, OAU chapter, Matthew Oluwaniyi, said the management and the union failed to act despite repeated warnings by the deceased about the unsafe work environment.

Oluwaniyi said the deceased dedicated his life to the care of animals in the institution’s zoological garden, adding that “in a moment of unparalleled heroism, Olabode selflessly put his own life on the line to rescue a colleague who had fallen victim to the ferocity of a lion.

“His actions were not merely a fulfillment of duty; they were a testament to the very essence of humanity. With unwavering courage, he stood between danger and his fellow staff members, offering protection at the cost of his own life.

“Olabode’s bravery will forever be etched in our memories, a flame that burns eternal in the hearts of all who knew him. He was more than just an employee; he was the embodiment of dedication, compassion, and selflessness.

“Comrade Olabode, your death also comes with a whole bunch of lessons for us that shall keep unfolding. As a university, we have failed you as a union. We haven’t listened closely enough to your repeated warnings about unsafe work conditions most of the time when you visited the secretariat.

“We haven’t done enough to create the secure environment you deserved. But that ends today. As a united force, we vow: Never again will we allow any member to face such dangers. We will work tirelessly with the university administration, local and international organisations, and regulatory bodies to ensure every institutional resource is harnessed towards creating a safe and secure work environment for all.”

Olawuyi met his untimely demise in a harrowing encounter on February 19 with a nine-year-old male lion during a routine feeding session.

In a somber press release, the University’s Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olarewaju, conveyed the sorrow gripping the campus: “The management, staff, students, and the entire campus of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, have been thrown into mourning following the untimely death of Olabode Olawuyi.”

Eyewitnesses recounted the horrifying scene as Olawuyi was attacked while carrying out his duties.

Despite the valiant efforts of fellow staff members to rescue him, the ferocity of the lion resulted in fatal injuries.

“The other members of staff who were at the scene of the incident did everything within their power to rescue their boss but the wild cat had already caused severe fatalities,” emphasized Olarewaju.

The University’s management, led by Vice-Chancellor Adebayo Simeon Bamire (Professor), immediately halted ongoing activities to assess the situation.

Tirimisiyu Olatunji, Acting Director of the University Health and Medical Centre, informed the Vice-Chancellor that despite their efforts, medical intervention could not save Olawuyi’s life.

In a sorrowful turn of events, the lion responsible for the tragedy was euthanized.

“Mr. Olawuyi has been taking care of the lions since they were born on campus about nine years ago but, tragically, the male lion killed the man who had been feeding them,” lamented the University’s statement.

Expressing condolences to the bereaved family, the University management dispatched a delegation to console the widow and children of the deceased.

“The University management has sent a delegation to the widow and children of the deceased, imploring them to take solace in God who gives life and also has the power to take life,” stated the release.

In response to the incident, Vice-Chancellor Bamire ordered a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attack.

“Meanwhile, the vice-chancellor, Professor Adebayo Simeon Bamire, has ordered a comprehensive investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the incident,” the statement affirmed.