"Boss", a Brahman bull born in the USA but raised in Bangladesh, has been sold for a record price as the country prepares to sacrifice over 10 million animals to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Azha next week, officials said Thursday.
Muslims slaughter an animal -- a goat, sheep, cow, or camel -- during the festivities in a ritual stemming from the story of the prophet Abraham, commanded by God to slaughter his beloved son Ismail.
The meat is distributed in equal parts to the poor, relatives, and consumed by the family themselves. Millions of hides are donated to poor people and orphanages.
Raising animals for Eid-ul-Azha is a major job creator, and there is fierce competition among farmers throughout the country to rear the best-looking and heaviest cattle.
"Boss", imported from the United States and reared at a farm on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka, broke all records when it became the country's most expensive sacrificial animal.
"It was sold for 3.7 million taka (US$43,750)," owner Mohammad Imran Hossain said of the 1,400-kilogramme (about 3,100-pound) behemoth.
He told AFP the buyer was a garment factory owner.
Another Brahman bull -- named "Messi" after the Argentine football star and raised at the same farm -- sold for 2.8 million taka, the second-highest price this year.
Titanic, an Australian Holstein Friesian, fetched Tk 1.7 million.
Animal rights groups criticise Bangladesh's practice of slaughtering animals at homes and front yards.
But authorities see the price war for Eid animals as a boon for the impoverished economy, particularly for farmers who have suffered heavy losses amid plunging rice prices in local markets.
"This year we have estimated that a record 10.7-million animal cows, goats, sheep and camels would be sacrificed during the Eid," the head of the government's livestock department, Hitesh Chandra Basak, told AFP.
He said local goats would make up some 60 per cent of the sacrificial animals, followed by cattle.
In the past millions of head of cattle were smuggled from India to be slaughtered during Eid.
But tough border patrols imposed by the Hindu nationalist government in India, where Hindus consider cows sacred, sharply curtailed the trade.