The authorities have finally allowed the country’s largest pet market in Kataban to remain open for four hours every day during the second phase of the strict lockdown that began on July 23.
The shopkeepers can keep shutters partially open from 9 am to 11 am and again from 4 pm to 6 pm to clean shops, change the water and serve food to the animals and birds caged inside.
The authorities came up with the latest decision following reports of hundreds of animals dying in their cages due to lack of food and water. The reports drew the attention of animal welfare activists and the media.
Earlier, during the 14-day strict lockdown in early July, around 400 birds as well as dozens of dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, and guinea pigs died, which resulted in huge financial losses for the shop owners.
Shimul Mitra, manager of Bird’s Zoo, said: “A lot of animals died in the last lockdown as we couldn’t open the shops at the time. If we opened them, the police would find us. But when news of the animals dying broke out, they permitted us to open the shop for only two hours.”
He said four expensive birds and a few other animals died in his shop during that time, which was a great loss for their business.
“As our birds died during the last lockdown, we have transferred 70% of the remaining birds to our farm in Savar this time to ensure a better environment. Being confined in a closed shop for 20 hours is not easy for them,” he noted.
A caretaker of Athoi Enterprise said that in the last lockdown, Tk1 lakh worth of fish died in its shop.
“The shop owner has put aside his hopes for any income since for the time being saving the fishes is the biggest challenge,” he said.
Many caretakers said that the owners had to pay full salaries to their staff every month, as the latter had to take care of these animals. They believe that their condition is much better than that of the owners.