Maiden private zoological museum in shambles

KATHMANDU: At a glance, the three-story building in Capital’s Anamnagar looks like a large mansion but a closer glance takes us across a large numbers of animal skins, horns, feathers

and skeletons, including that of a standing Snow Leopard that

give the impression that this was once a thriving museum and a research laboratory.

To a casual visitor, the standing life-size Snow Leopard on the first floor and the hundreds of varieties of animal skins and skeletons scattered on the third-floor give the impression that this was no ordinary museum. Despite thousands of collections of species of rare species, the formerly ‘Himalayan Fauna Emporium’, which is now called the personal zoological museum, has steadily been losing its grandeur day after day.

The concept of this museum was conceived back in 1963 by Taxidermist Govinda Bahadur Gurung, a wildlife enthusiast.

“We explored all avenues to make this museum attractive for visitors but we desperately lacked adequate space,” said Birendra Malla, biologist of the newly formed National Institute of Natural Sciences (NINS).

Malla bemoans that in the absence of adequate space, the collections are dumped in small boxes. He says that an adequate space for display would restore the charms and it could be of invaluable resources for zoologists and researchers.

“We have some of the rarest and endangered species collected here,” Malla said. Among those are rare skeletons and skins of

animals and birds spanning over thousands of years.

Tradition has it that seeing a live snow leopard in the original habitat would fetch fortunes for the people. But more importantly, the species holds a paramount importance for biological researchers and zoologists today, said Malla.

Nonetheless spectacular is the scene of a room decorated elaborately with ancient species of birds, wild animals and reptile.

“We have invested more than Rs two million for preserving these species but sadly we have to store them in many small rooms due to lack of space and fund, “ Malla further lamented.

Zoologists blame on the bookish attitude that is in the making in today’s generation of scholars and students, who they argue rely on glossy animal pictures on books and other facts and figures being provided in contemporary colleges and universities, as partly responsible for the decadence of this storehouse of invaluable treasure.

“We continued to press the government to provide more spaces and take advantage for the natural history museum existing for more than half a century but the government is least interested in it,” Malla said. Other conservationists are equally concerned for the dilapidated state of the only museum for preserving dead animals.

In a letter sent by Dr.Robert L.Fleming to taxidermist Govinda Bahadur Gurung in 1962,it was stated “I meant to pay for the couple of cuckoo skins provided by you but you didn’t set any price so enclosed is the amount of Rs.10(Rs.5 for each).”