Brainfeed interacted with Dr. Zabi Khan, the founder of ‘a place to bark’ society and first person from Hyderabad to be recognized as an Ashoka youth venturer. A humane educator and social entrepreneur, Khan is the Padma Shri nominee 2018, National Youth Award nominee 2018, Rise young citizen 2017 and world record holder for being the world’s youngest Animal Rights activist. The 20-year-old engineering student was recently honored by an honorary Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.) from a London (U.K) based university for his 8 years of service as an animal rights activist in the social welfare field.
He started working for animal rights at the age of 13. When he was 16, he started a registered NGO and a rescue and adoption animal shelter. Till date, he has rescued over 500+ animals and rehabilitated around 3000+ animals.
Who is your inspiration?
I love animals for as long as I can remember. I was a real stubborn kid and always used to trouble my mother for food. Every morning she used to take me out. We had some colony dogs. My mother used to feed them the half chapatti and seeing dogs out of happiness, I used to eat the other half without troubling her. I think that this little gesture of my mother, just to make me eat food, has impacted my life tremendously.
Is there any incident that awakened the World’s Youngest Animal Rights activist within you?
I was walking down the street and I saw a German shepherd puppy lying on the road. I inquired around and found that someone just dropped him off a car and never returned. The puppy looked sad and was very hungry, I got him home and named him Casanova. However, 4 days later, Casanova was running with very high-grade fever. I took him to the vet with my dad’s help; the vet examined him and told me that my little kiddo will be all fine within a few days. Once back home, Casanova remained a little dull but followed me around all through the day. I woke up at 4 am the next morning. I called out Casanova and he didn’t respond, I touched him and there was no response, my little kiddo was no more. Casanova was suffering from Parvo bacteria and was in the last stage. He was probably abandoned because his previous owners thought he wasn’t worth investing so much in. That night shattered me as well as showed me the meaning of my life. I promised myself that I would now never let any animal suffering like my Casanova did. My life had a purpose and a meaning now and that’s how it all started.
How was your student life at school? Were you always ready to speak for justice?
It was shockingly opposite! I was somebody who never dared to raise his hand in the class, somebody who hated to be called on to read aloud and was described by every teacher of mine as painfully shy. I think something in me connected to those who seem invisible and voiceless.
“All I know is someone who didn’t dare to raise his hand in the class, grew up to someone who wants to raise the roof for ANIMALS.”
How did you manage the funds to take care of animals when you were just 13?
I first rented a place near my home and ran an animal shelter there. Later, as I joined my engineering college, it was getting really difficult for me to manage shelter as well as studies together. I asked myself; why not open a shelter inside my college campus? Through my work, I inspired and motivated other students in my college. They joined my work and sympathized with the cause. With students strongly backing me, I went on to convince college authorities and they agreed. I constructed an animal shelter inside the campus itself and made my college India’s first Animal-Friendly Educational campus.
What humanity means for you?
I know that each and every one of you has the opportunity to help someone else. All you need to do is help one living being, one organization or a situation that touches your heart. For me that is humanity. We can all change this world; we can all raise our voice. We all have it in us no matter what our calling is. Age is just a number when you’re passionate enough for your cause. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much money you carry in your pocket; what really matters is how much love you carry in your heart.