Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 6 Issue 8 | March 2, 2007 |

   Cover Story
   View from the    Bottom
   Human Rights
   Photo Feature
   Special Feature
   Dhaka Diary
   Book Review
   New Flicks

   SWM Home

View from the Bottom

A visit to a zoo

Shahnoor Wahid

My friend Shoondar Ali Dofadar's British friends Jonathan Harker and Lucy came on a visit to Bangladesh last week. After a whirlwind tour of the country he took them to a special zoo built on the edge of the city. This particular zoo has become the craze among the people in Bangladesh as it houses some very rare species of animals. These varieties are known to be quite native having bizarre behavioural pattern. They look docile from outside but are actually ferocious when it comes to protecting their offspring and territory. They move in large packs and can kill without compunction. They had very recently terrorised the entire swathe of the country, howling, ripping, snapping, growling, killing and so on. Somehow, the people got together with a determination and drove the packs away to the dark forests. But before that they had trapped some of the animals and put them in that special zoo.

Shoondar Ali Dofadar told me that some zoo officials of other countries have expressed keen interest in collecting some of the species for display in their country. Some scientific research laboratories in the West have already collected blood samples of these rare animals to find out why they behaved the way they do.

Below is given my friend's story of the visit to the zoo.

“As we walked around the zoo Lucy and Jonathan asked me to describe each animal that they saw. And I tried my best to describe them even though some of them were beyond my ability to do so.

Jonathan Harker (JH): Wow, look at that fat one over there! What is it called?
Shoondar Ali Dofadar (SAD): That one is called Railjomikheko.
JH: What a strange name! Difficult to pronounce too! Tell me, why is it called so?
SAD: Well, it has strange eating habits. It loves to eat land belonging to the railway department and that's why it has this name.
JH: By golly! What about that one with such a wide mouth?
SAD: That one is called Tinkheko. As it loves to eat corrugated iron sheet, its mouth has widened through the evolutionary process.
JH: Hmmm. Interesting. Eating tin sheet. Never seen one before really. Darwin would have been happy to find the whole bunch under one roof. Say, old chap, why is that one eating earth? It seems as if it is enjoying it!
SAD: Oh, that one is called Jomikheko. This variety has never-ending hunger and eats up government land anywhere and everywhere. It survives by eating earth. If you do not stop them then they would eat up all of the state land within a couple of years.
JH: I see, very intriguing indeed. I am sure people in England would love to have these rare varieties in their zoo. Hey...look...look... that one over there! It is eating grass! I thought only cows and goats ate grass and not animals having fangs!
SAD: Oh, that one is called Ghashkhaibum. It used to eat up grass on the field in front of our parliament building. The grass of that field is very tasty. The government had spent one crore taka to cut that grass to make that one happy.
JH: By Jove! How interesting! Look over there! That one has eaten up an entire blanket before our eyes! Will it be able to digest it? What a horrendous sight!
SAD: Don't worry Jonathan. It's peanut. They love the taste of it. They are called Kombolbhuk. That kind has devoured thousands of blankets by now. That's why last winter many poor people died in severe cold in the northern part of the country.
JH: Hmmm. I say.... one fiendish looking animal over there is pecking on a huge tree. I only knew woodpeckers pecked on tees but this one....! What do you call that brute?
SAD: That one is called Gachhkheko. This variety has eaten up all the lofty trees in Bangladesh. They do it mostly at night. Look how they have fattened up in a couple of years. I guess trees give lots of nutrition.
Lucy: Oh dear....oh dear.....look over there...a whole bunch of them lapping up water and also eating up the two banks of a small canal I guess built to beautify the zoo! What kind of animals are those?
SAD: That is a mixed variety of animals....they are cousins in fact belonging to the Kheko species. They are named Panikheko, Khalkheko, Nordomakheko, Nodikheko, Rastakheko and so on.
JH: What about that one..... say my fellow....that one looks like a rogue.....eating up earth from some small mounds! How disgusting! There are some more over there!
SAD: Oh that is a naughty one, that brute. That one is called Koborbhuk. It is so named because it used to eat up graveyards. Uncanny habit, don't you think?
JH: Yes...indeed. Graveyards give us the creeps. In England we believe only ghosts love graveyards. Lucy and I had strange experiences with some dead ghosts and one not-so-dead ghost some years ago. So, we do not particularly like anyone having fascination for graveyards.
Well, Shoondar Ali, I think we have had enough of these animals. They are bizarre indeed and now I am not so sure we want to have them in England. You better keep them here so that you will be able to display them before your progeny. Maybe they will learn a few lessons from studying them. Good luck, old chum.”

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2007