The Karachi zoo is home to many wild elephants, deer, and lions but alongside the zoo enclosure, there is a strange creature, hidden behind a curtain in a tatty pavilion. This is Mumtaz Begum – a mythical half-fox, half-woman creature who has been at the zoo for more than 40 years, attracting many visitors who come just to see her. Mumtaz Begum is supposed to be a lounging fox with the head of a woman who can see the future and offer advice.
The Begum is, in reality, a character played by performer Murad Ali who inherited this role from his father. Everyday Ali wakes up, puts on heavy makeup and turns into Mumtaz Begum. While it may sound bizarre, zoo officials have accepted this as a way to bring in more visitors. It costs Rs 10 to catch a glimpse of this mythical creature and there are often long queues outside Mumtaz Begum's enclosure.
Talking to Reuters in this video, Murad Ali says “the people who visit here go away happy. And knowing that they feel happy makes me happy too. There is a bond of love between me and them. Life is very short; it should be spent spreading smiles.” From exam results to visa approvals, people believe Mumtaz Begum has all the answers and her predictions never go wrong.