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So, what were you doing when you were 12?

Most probably, awkwardly facing the complexities of pre-teen life, crying over your Hogwarts letter that never came and slightly stressing over UPSR. But definitely not being a business owner, right?

via GIPHY

Meet Mirza, the 12-year-old boy who runs his own petting zoo.

Pettopia My, his hobby-turned-side-hustle got quite a lot of attention on social media when his uncle shared Mirza’s special talent on Twitter.

According to the tweet which has garnered nearly 6,000 shares, Mirza’s love affair for wildlife began with a hedgehog. When they started multiplying, he began selling them and soon started a petting zoo service.

Mirza currently owns around 30 species of animals including rabbits, tarantula and reptiles. He brings them to birthday parties for kids to pet and play with.

Besides the petting zoo service, Mirza and his younger sister Misha also make educational videos on their exotic animals.

He also has his own blog, Pettopia by Mirza, where he shares interesting facts and information about his pets. He started the blog to encourage and educate people to love, not fear, all sorts of animals especially reptiles.

Picture Credit: Screenshot from Pettopia by Mirza

Inspired by this spunky little kid, The Rakyat Post caught up with Mirza to find out more about his pet project.

Mirza has always had an easy connection with the little creatures

A naturalist and animal lover since he was young(er), Mirza started bonding with animals when he was just a year old!

Picture Credit: Pettopia by Mirza

He has been collecting exotic pets since 2016 and is also quite a fearless kid.

He currently cares for some pretty scary-sounding creatures like Madagascar Hissing Roaches, Ball Phython, Tarantula, Chinese Water Dragon and Leopard Gecko.

His petting zoo business started by accident

Friends of his mother loved his collection of animals and asked if he could bring them to their kids’ parties as a mini petting zoo.

Soon after that, requests started pouring in as friends spread the word and pictures of his petting zoo appeared online.

Although Mirza loves teaching others about his pets, he only does it on weekends and school holidays as the 12-year-old boy is still studying.

His animals are a family affair

“I try to balance school and my hobby, but I cannot do it alone,” says Mirza. He gets plenty of help from his parents and sister in caring, feeding and cleaning the animals. “It’s family time for us,” he says.

The family together with their collection of reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians, insects and arachnids have been causing excitement at birthday parties, school events, private functions and shopping malls as well.

While this is just a fun project for Mirza, he dreams to continue caring for animals by being a veterinarian with his own animal hospital.

He also hopes to one day have his own zoo or animal sanctuary to share his love and knowledge of the animals to the world.

Check out more about his animals on the Pettopia My (@pettopia.my) and Reptiles by Mirza (@reptilesbymirza) Instagram pages.

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