Family of Carabao

family of carabao
Family of Carabao | @natmuseumph (National Museum of the Philippines)

Family of Carabao

A new exhibition at the National Museum of the Natural History.

While the National Museum again closed to contribute to the government’s efforts in beating COVID-19, its curators are busy putting together a number of exhibitions. One of them is found in a niche at the stairs’ landing on the 5th level of the National Museum of Natural History. It comprises a family of carabaos from Nueva Ecija that was specially prepared by our taxidermists and scientists.

Carabaos symbolize the Asian way of life and were introduced in the Philippines around 300 BC by Malay and Chinese settlers. In the rural areas, they are very valuable in agriculture. Their heavy build is well suited for the hard labor in the rice fields. They serve as “living tractors” that help farmers in plowing and harrowing the muddy rice paddies.

Economically, carabaos are a major contributor to Philippine agriculture. They also provide meat and dairy products, hide, sustainable farming, and transportation in remote rural areas in the Philippines. In some northern communities in the mountain regions of Luzon, they are part of prestigious feasts that validate the social status of the upper rank. Rituals such as weddings, healing, or other rites of passage allow heads of slaughtered carabaos to be displayed prominently as part of offerings to spirits.

Have you ever wondered why carabaos wallow in a muddy hole or river? Although they are well adapted to hot and humid weather, they are also vulnerable to thermal stress. To cool off and reduce heat, carabaos often dip in the river or wallow in the mud. They also coat their huge body with mud to protect them from heat and insect bites.

When our situation eases and the Museum opens its doors to public viewing again, the National Museum of the Philippines invites you to come and see its carabao exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History in Manila.

Source: Text and photo by NMP Zoology Division. National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

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