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Thursday, March 17, 2011

The pet world of Zhu zhus – En Iniya Enthira of Sujatha..

In the present busy world, people have less time and the finer things in life are not appreciated.  Many are not able to appreciate nature. In the bustling city life inside concrete jungle, there is nothing as nature at all. The chirping birds, squirrels are not found as their habitat is lost.  Some find solace in having pets. Some would quip that humanity is slowing losing their tolerance and first should love fellow human beings before patronising pets. 

Pet is often smaller animals kept for companionship and enjoyment.  These are domesticated animals, which would obey commands and do things that would please its master [is that what is wanted everywhere !] – man’s interaction with animals is boundless – there are wild animals [or is animals in wild more appropriate], livestock, laboratory animals, working animals, sports animals, breeding animals kept for food and making money – there are few others which are kept for their loyalty, playfulness, singing prowess, beauty and other characteristics.  Believers claim that pets would help relieve stress – but you need to love your pet and believe on this to really enjoy and get some health benefits !  Some say, merely looking at the swimming fishes would take away the strain and stress.  Then suddenly there came the concept of vasthu and vasthu fishes.   Going by available statistics, Cat tops the list of pets followed by Dogs, Fishes, small mammals, small birds, reptiles, amphibians and equine – but keeping a pet  would be more driven by one’s liking than by any empirical evidence.

There are some peculiar pets as well.  In some countries, hamsters are quite popular.  Hamsters are rodents fo the family of crictinae. They live in burrows in day light.  They have been successfully bred and domesticated as small house pets.   The list of pets owned by people would sometimes take you by surprise.  There are reported incidents of people having – rabbits, guinea pigs, anteaters, foxes, coydogs, dingos, civets, deers, big felines, llamas  marsupials like opossum, wallaby, mongoose, even snakes, badgers, otters, rodents, hogs, suirrels, tapirs besides huge variety of small and big birds.   Most countries prohibit having wild and endangered animals as pets.  There is a market in Chennai near Mannadi, where on Sundays, exotic pets are sold – these include varieties of dogs, many a types of birds including pigeons, parrots, hen and more including monkeys.

Recently occasioned to read ‘En Eniya Iyanthira ’ – [my dear machine !] of my favourite Srirangam Rangarajan more famously known as Sujatha who went away from us on 27th Feb 2008.  An Engineer by profession, he would summate all qualities of a Genius by his profound knowledge in almost all subjects.  Sujatha wrote more than 100 novels, 250 short storeis, books on Science, stage plays and a smaller volume of poems.  He was equally adept in Tamil literature and Vaishnavism.   

This particular book was a tamil science fiction which had its readers expecting for the week to come when it was published week after week in Ananda Vikadan in early 1980s.  The plot was subtly woven around a dictator who has the continent under his tight grip and 3 rebels organising a coup.  One of the main characters was Jeeno – a robot dog.   In that the ruler has population under his control and would exterminated when they cross the limit and everything is controlled by computers.  Jeeno, the robotic pet could speak, access more to its memory by scanning books, and can logically give solutions including random numbers for breaking codes.  It plays an important role throughout the story.  Readers would simply be amazed by the futuristic thinking and the  capability of computers explained in the story.  Clearly a Genius’s perspective, thinking far ahead of his times. 

Then there is the Zhu zhu pets.  These also known as Go go hamsters are plush robotic hamster toys created in 2009 which instantly became a craze over the Western world.  The inventor is credited to tbe Russ Hornsby of Cepia Llc. Pronounced as zoo zoo, these battery operated hamsters run on wheel around the tracks set up.  They are cloned like real hamsters.  The target market is children who are really amused and driving their parents mad for buying more. Hamsters have short tails, furr ears, short stocky legs, extremely chirpy and come in black, gray, white, brown, yellow colours and can be fun to watch.    The problem with hamsters as with other live pets is the mess that they make.  That is where Zhu zhu score over.
the one on top are zhu zhuz - bottom dwarf rabbits

They look real enough and scamper around cutely on the modular tracks which again are to be bought but don’t mess around.  If one really wants to stave off loneliness, this can perceived to be companion in some way.  To some a robot or any other form is only a toy and can never be a replacement for the lively small cute animals. For kids, they are really adorable little furry ones looking real.  They can be had in sets or alone and come in different varieties.  They are cleverly marketed as Kungzhu ninja warriors comprising of squad members and then there are zhu zhu babies, Princess and more. 

Those with money to spend can think of spoiling their kid with varieties of zhu zhu in different colours.  They are battery operated and would make funny noises going round the table or the room. 

In most Western countries, safety is of prime importance and toys are advertised and marketed for the particular age groups.  They have to be made of quality plastic free of toxic contents.  At a time when the sales of furried toys were hitting the roof, a consumer group in Californis stated that they may not be safe  stating it contains a chemical called antimony, which is a metal with potential health hazards.   The environmental group reported that this if ingested in high enough levels, can lead to cancer, reproductive health and other human health hazards.  This prompted the manufacturer of  Zhu Zhu Pets, Cepia LLC, to come out stating that their toys are tested and are safe.   

These toys are made in China, thought the company, Cepia llc, is headquartered in St. Louis  Incidentally, Jino (also called Jinou) are people – Tibeto Burman ethnic group – who are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognished by the People's Republic of China. They live in Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province, China.

S. Sampathkumar

PS:  For those who live in apartments sharing all walls with neighbours, raising a pet can only be a dream.  Such of us need to think of first having enough space for our children to play and enjoy the environment.

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