This family lives in a mini-zoo

Thirty-year-old Ali Hasnain Abidi owns a house in the old city area in Lucknow. From outside, visitors won't have an inkling of what is in store for them when they step in.

They all will be greeted by all kinds of animals as his house resembles a mini-zoo with snakes, dogs, cats, lizards, hyenas, peacocks, deer and several rare birds.

They are not permanent inhabitants at Abidi’s house and most of them are recuperating in the building. Abidi has not bought them to be kept as pets. Abidi, who is popularly known as Faiz in his Rustam Nagar locality, has the habit of bringing home wounded or sick animals on the streets and nursing them with all the affection and leaving them in their natural habitat—mainly forest.

“I have been doing so for over 10 years. During these years I have treated hundreds of such animals,” Abidi said as he proudly displayed a lizard (bonzai comodo dragon), which he brought home recently.

“While I have brought hundreds of wounded or sick animals home myself, many a time other people also bring animals or inform me about them,” Abidi told Deccan Herald.
A few days back, Abidi got a call from a neighbouring locality informing him about the lizard, which was wounded. Abidi and his family are currently busy nursing it. “I will release it into the forest once it gets well,” he said.

Quite often he finds wounded dogs writhing in pain on the streets after being hit by vehicles. Now, four such dogs are under the care of  Abidi. Locals say that Abidi has become famous as an “animal lover”.  People, even staying in different parts of the city, inform Abidi about movement of reptiles or abandoned animals in their vicinity.

A father of three, Abidi finds it difficult to nurse animals with  limited income from his small business. But the love and passion to help animals keep him going. And he gets full support of his family in his endeavour.

His wife Rumi lends a helping hand to Abidi in nursing the animals. She could be seen taking the animals from one place to another and in their cages. “My wife never complains,” he said proudly.

To begin with, for Rumi, it was a strange experience initially. “I was shocked to find that my husband had so much affection for animals. It was difficult for me to adjust with him. But I gradually realised that he had a tender heart,” she said. “Now I also enjoy nursing these animals. When an animal is cured and becomes healthy, I feel very happy,” Rumi said.

It was his love and affection for the animals that prompted Abidi to undergo a training for honorary animal welfare officer organised by the Animal Welfare Board of India. He also underwent a course of master trainer in civil defence.

It all began about 12 years ago, when a snake was sighted at his house. “My elder brother Abbas killed the snake with the help of others. I was so afraid then that I did not even go anywhere near the snake,”  Abidi said.

“I wanted to overcome this fear.  I then began befriending them and gradually it turned into an affection,” he said.  Now, animals live in his house just like his own children. “Even my little daughter plays with them. I want my children to grow up amid these animals so that they also develop affection for them,” he said.

Abidi has been felicitated by several organisations in recognition of his work. A few years back, he had also conducted a sting operation in the illegal bird market in the state capital.

A large number of rare birds from various places, which were being sold, were seized after Abidi informed the police. Incidentally, Abidi does not get any financial assistance for his work. “I have never approached the government institutions or private firms for monetary help though it is not easy to spare money for their nursing,” he says.

Abidi, who lost his mother when he was a child, was deprived of the mother’s love. “I do not know about mother’s love. My father re-married after my mother’s untimely death and my step-mother never loved me,” he said.

Abidi is currently involved in a legal battle with his father over family properties. “I want to shower the same love…the love that I did not get, on these animals’’, he said.   Abidi intends to carry on with his “lovely” addiction as long as he can. “I want to continue to nurse these helpless animals…this is my way of protecting the environment,” he says proudly.


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