When we were children, the zoo seemed like a magical place full of adventures where we could discover exotic animals, ride carousel horses or other animals, or simply observe animals that we only saw in cartoons. Inspired by our childhood cartoons, we believed that once the zoo gates close, the animals would start talking, go on adventures, and have lots of fun. But not all of us ever thought about how these animals really feel standing there as mere objects of display while everyone’s watching every step they take. Only when we grew up, we realized that they actually don’t go on magic adventures or have lots of fun. They are simply caged in small spaces far away from their families and natural habitats for visitors to stare at them.
Not all the zoos are like that but Shafiqul Islam tells a story about the worst conditions for animals to live in Mirpur Zoo in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Shafiqul is a professional photographer from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He tries to express his feelings and thoughts through his photographs. The artist loves animals and enjoys photographing them, therefore, this project called “Prisoners” was really important for him to express his feelings towards these horrible conditions for animals to live in Mirpur Zoo. The photographer uses his lenses to show what these animals really feel. For the most part, sadness and loneliness.
“Going to [the] zoo is one of many ways for people to entertain themselves. Besides that, people also go there for educational purposes or to do research. However, the main purposes of [the] zoo is to protect wildlife and let all of us understand the importance of nature. There are many exotic animals that bear the chances of dying out in the wild. Therefore, [the] zoo plays [an] important role [in] for saving the endangered animals. But in Mirpur Zoo, the case is quite ironic. The visitors go there with the expectation to see the fun, playful side of the animals. Sometimes the animals and the birds are forced by the visitors to act in such way. But the visitors can’t see the actual situation inside the cages. The fear, the hunger, the pain and the sadness… it seems like the animals are kept as prisoners without committing any crime!” – the artist told Bored Panda.
“Here is a photo story of such animals in Mirpur Zoo in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The story is not about the carelessness or the poor job done by the zookeepers. It’s about the pain of the animals that are kept in insufficiently small areas or cages, out of their habitat. If people look into their eyes and feel the emotion and expression deep enough, they might hear the silent screams as well.”
“My inspiration to do this long term project came from the expressions of the suffering animals. Once I went to visit the zoo and felt like they are not even close to being happy. I wondered how would I feel if I was kept in a small room and provided as little food as just to live, that broke my heart and thought I should express their pain through photographs.” – explains the artist.