A tiny cow has attracted thousands of people to a farm near the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka despite a nationwide shutdown of public transport.
At just 51 centimeters (20 inches) tall, Rani the cow has drawn national attention for possibly breaking a record as the world’s shortest bovine, although the crowds of spectators raised public health concerns as the South Asian nation struggles with its worst spike in COVID-19 cases yet.
“We bought Rani from a farm in a rural area 11 months ago and I was absolutely mesmerized by her innocent looks,” Kazi Mohammed Abu Sufian, who runs a farm called Shikhor Agro, told VICE World News.
Rani became a national wonder after Abu Sufian submitted her file on July 2 for a Guinness world record as the world’s shortest cow. He said over a hundred local news channels have covered his pet, some declaring it the biggest tourist attraction in the country as public landmarks are shuttered due to the pandemic.
“Guinness has acknowledged our entry and will be doing an independent verification, but we are confident that Rani will get the award,” he said.
A cow from the Indian state of Kerala is the current title holder for the world’s shortest bovine. Standing 61 centimeters tall – or short – the cow Manikyam set this record in 2014.
Rani, according to her owner, is at least 10 centimeters shorter.
Rani’s small size is especially unusual given that she belongs to a breed called Bhutti, which are usually double her size. Manikyam, on the other hand, is a Vechur, which is typically dwarfed.
Rani is unlikely to grow any bigger as she is the product of “genetic inbreeding,” Abu Sufian said. He even waited until she was fully grown before he entered her as a contender for the world record.
But the adoring crowds have worried the farmer, who fears that they could worsen the spread of the coronavirus. The country of 163 million people has reported nearly 1 million total cases of the virus, and is currently recording some of its highest daily death tolls since the start of the pandemic.
More than 20,000 people turned up at the farm this week to catch a glimpse of Rani and take selfies with her, Abu Sufian said.
Rani, for her part, isn’t thrilled about her new celebrity status either.
“She is not used to interacting with so many people. She just wants her space to roam around on the farm and eat grass, which she has lost now,” Abu Sufian said. “We have now hired three security guards just to take care of her, but she doesn’t like it.”
Abu Sufian doesn’t plan to sell his prized bovine, but wants to hand her over to the government as he feels they will be able to provide the best life for her.
“Maybe she can become an international attraction once the coronavirus lockdown is lifted,” he said.