The words ‘BHV Zoo’ (title of the book) meet the eye on the sedate black cover of this photographic compilation by Amean J. Introducing Bahawalpur is Ilona Yusuf with a short history and poetry.
The book begins its tour of the Bahawalpur zoo by looking into the eyes of what seems to be a lioness. The bars locking it into its forced habitat do nothing to diminish the curious gleam in its eye as it stares back at the camera lens. There are shots of the glorious creature from a distance as it prowls its meagre abode. A tiger takes a stroll, languidly, luxuriously and the camera captures the essence of its grace and beauty almost as if one is watching a sultan circle its throne.
The most restless of creatures in captivity are the bears. The stand on their hind paws almost begging to be challenged to a duel. The animals, it seems, are not the only ones that have caught the photographer’s attention. There are the age-old wrought iron benches and a street vendor sitting with his wares in a lungi taking a much-deserved break with a hukkah.
“Do not tease zoo animals’ shouts a poster that goes as far as to show a homosapien in a cage while the beasts stare on it. The shots become more fluid and detailed as we move towards the less dangerous animals of the zoo: the pelicans’ hunched shoulder blades, the zebras’ artistic skin. The burqa-clad audience to this piece of wild life is reminiscent of the guinea fowl huddled together.
Amean J.’s journey from fashion to zoo and from colour to black-and-white has been captured eloquently through nature. But one is still left feeling that there could be more to this compilation. Or perhaps there could be more to what we can do for these gifts of the wild.