One of the main attractions of the Karachi Zoo in Pakistan is the “Mumtaz Begum Africa Wali”, a mythical creature half woman and half fox. The creature tells of being born in Africa 35 years ago, and of living on sweets, juices, and fruit, and after a short monologue begins talking to visitors, often predicting the future.
Clearly, the mythical animal is a fiction. And while some criticise the zoo because in their opinion nature and fantasy should not be mixed (some have called the exhibit “ignoble and deplorable”), others argue that in this case the zoo is not “fooling” visitors by showing them one thing for another , but simply by offering a show , which is much appreciated by looking at the numbers of visitors and their satisfaction.
Thirty-three-year-old Murad Ali, who “inherited” the role from his father 16 years ago, plays the fox-woman. Ali is extremely happy with his work: “ People who come here leave happy. And knowing that makes me happy too. There is a bond of love between them and me. Life is very short: it should be used with smiles, ”he explains .
The zoo director explains that humans have always played the creature, because they would better handle the stress of negative comments and harassing people. The selection also evaluates the number of local languages and dialects that the candidate knows (in order to better interact with visitors) and acting skills.