Tuesday, 21 September, 2021

Katabon creatures counting days

Katabon creatures counting days
A trader at a pet shop in the capital’s Katabon feeds a bird in a cage during the countrywide lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. The photo was taken on Monday. —MD NASIR UDDIN

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The creatures spend their whole life in a lockdown like situation. Born in a cage, they grow up under artificial light, fan and air conditioner, and eat packaged foods. No matter whether it is Manhattan’s live animal market or Dhaka’s Katabon, the situation is more or less the same for them.

Lives of these animals, birds and fishes end in the veranda or drawing room of a luxurious house moving from one cage or aquarium to another.

Yet they receive good care. The traders of Katabon take care of them at least for their business.

The government has imposed strict restrictions across the country to break the chain of coronavirus transmission. Therefore, pet shops at Katabon market have also been closed.

This is disrupting the lives of animals, birds and fishes to a great extent as employees and pet shop owners are getting limited opportunity to take care of them. Earlier in the previous phase of the lockdown, several hundreds of birds, dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, fishes and guinea pigs were starved of proper lighting and air circulation, which eventually led to many of them dying from suffocation.

The deaths of these animals, beyond being a cruel end to creatures that have spent their lives in cages, have also been a terrible loss to shop owners whose livelihoods depend on this trade.

Consequently, Katabon Aqua and Pet Association applied to the government to allow them for opening shops for a certain period of time. Upon their request, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock contacted the Ministry of Home Affairs and managed to convince them to allow these shop owners to open their shops for two hours in the morning and another two hours in the afternoon. Traders, however, think that four hours is not enough to take care of these pets.

“Can animals, birds and fishes be detained? We need to attend to them on a regular basis to feed and medicate them. They are more likely to die if the shutters of the shops remain closed. I request the government to allow us to keep the shops open whole day for the sake of these creatures,” said Delwar Hossain, vice-president of Katabon Aqua and Pet Association. Red Sea Enterprise owner Jubayer Mahmud said, “I have a pair of macaws in my shop worth more than Tk 5 lakh. If the birds die, my investment will be gone.” However, animal rights groups have said that no steps can ensure the rights of animals until the breeding and selling of animals in cages is stopped. The animals should be treated humanely and in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 2019, they said.

They also said the government must shut down Katabon pet shops once and for all and requested the customers of these shops to understand how they are helping continue a cruel practice.