At less than two feet high, Rani the cow from Bangladesh is so short that many dogs, children and even some newborn bovines could tower above her.
In recent days, thousands of people have flocked to Charigram, an hour away from the capital, hoping to meet the dwarf cow and snap a selfie with the possible record-breaker, said her owner, Kazi Mohammed Abu Sufian, who runs a farm.
“Rani is a craze as she has a high possibility to have her name in the Guinness Book of World Records,” he said in a written message to The Washington Post.
With a length of 27 inches, a height of 20 inches and a weight of 57 pounds, the 23-month-old white cow is at least four inches shorter than the current titleholder for the world’s shortest bovine – Manikyam, a 24-inch-tall Vechur cow from India that set the record in 2014, Abu Sufian said.
Rani, who was born in 2019, is not expected to get any taller – although she gained 15 pounds in the past year.
“Our local doctor has advised that she will not grow further,” Abu Sufian said.
He said he submitted her paperwork to Guinness this month for consideration and is awaiting an independent verification. The organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dwarfism in cows is caused by a genetic mutation and can be lethal for some breeds. In many cases, it is accompanied by DNA-related problems. This condition has been recognized as a hereditary disease in some breeds of cattle. Rani’s size is unusual because dwarfism doesn’t occur often in her breed, Bhutti.
Yet Rani – whose name means queen in Bengali – has emerged as a celebrity in her town in the Manikganj District, a region that has been beset by floods over the years and in 1989, a tornado that is thought to have killed 1,300. Like other stars, she now even has her own protective entourage.
As news of the cow spread by word of mouth and on social media, Abu Sufian said he decided to hire three security guards to help control the number of people congregating at the farm. Bangladesh has reported more than 1 million total coronavirus cases, and is experiencing some of its highest daily death tolls.
“Now we’re only allowing 10 people every day,” he said, adding that the private firm contracted is “allowing only selective people with prior appointment.”
The crowd control may benefit the fame-shy animal, who her owner said does not particularly enjoy being surrounded by unknown people, as she is not used to the interactions and likes having space to roam and graze.
When Rani is not taking pictures with her adoring fans, Abu Safian said she lives like any other cow, running “as fast as the rabbits we have in the farm” and entertaining her caretakers with what he described as an outsized personality.
“She acts like a queen, and always loves to remain clean,” he said.
Although the farm’s goal is to help her live as long as she can, her dwarfism – which was caused by inbreeding, according to the owner – could lead to some health problems, said Joe Armstrong, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
“A lot of times when you see any kind of abnormality that is congenital, then we start looking for other things that are wrong as well,” he said. “So, I would be concerned about the heart specifically.”
Armstrong said inbreeding raises the possibility of congenital abnormalities or genetic issues, in some cases leading to dwarfism, adding that most do not live long.
“There’s usually some other congenital abnormalities, usually issues with the heart, that can keep them from getting older,” he said.
Now Rani is increasingly capturing the attention of curious fans far from Bangladesh. Madison Pickett of Chicago said she fell in love with the miniature bovine after seeing a story on Facebook.
“I was hooked,” she said. “Small cows – like zebus – have always been a weak spot for me, so she stole my heart.”
With 7,891 miles separating her from the dwarf cow, the distance makes Pickett feel “selfishly, a little bummed.” Yet, despite her self-proclaimed obsession with Rami, she said she would not travel to Bangladesh under the current pandemic-ridden circumstances.
“You have to keep the health of the people of Bangladesh in mind and wait until it is safe,” she said. “So, as long as she is happy and cared for, that’s all that matters.”
For now, the photos of Rani will do – although a “TikTok is necessary at this point,” Pickett added.