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Vietnam recalls books telling kids ‘camel is largest bird on earth’

Saturday, April 09, 2016, 09:49 GMT+7

A Vietnamese publishing house is recalling a children’s knowledge book, which has angered parents across the country in recent days for claiming ‘camel is the largest bird on earth.’

Hong Duc Publishing House admitted on Friday that it is the publisher of the controversial book, adding it is trying to pull the book off shelves for corrections.

The book, titled “100,000 Why Questions,” began circulation in September 2015, with 2,000 copies, the publisher’s director Bui Viet Bac told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The book was published under cooperation between Hong Duc and Minh Tan Co. Ltd., the operator of the Minh Thang Bookstore, he added.

“We have stopped circulation this book since April 7 and have so far recalled 1,600 copies for correcting that detail,” he said, adding the recall campaign is still ongoing.

A page of the “100,000 Why Questions”, meant to answer the question ‘Which is the world’s largest bird,’ has been going viral on the Internet since Thursday.

According to the photo, the book author claims right at the beginning of the answer that “the largest bird on earth is camel.”

“Camel not only has a large body but also runs at great speed. A bird as it is, why we say it ‘runs fast’ rather than ‘fly’? It is because camel cannot fly because its body is too heavy, and its wings are regenerated,” the page reads.

The book continues explaining further that “among camel species, Arabian camel is the most popular, even more than American and Australian camels.”

The ‘Arabian camel’ is described as big, good at running, and capable of living in desert or abandoned areas, with the male camel standing 2.75 meters tall, measuring two meters long and weighing 160kg.

According to the book, the ‘camel’ has “white feather on its tail and wings.”

In conclusion, the book once again asserts that camel is a bird.

“Camels live in groups, with 40-50 animals per herd. The female camels will lay eggs, usually eight eggs at a time, and the male ones are in charge of hatching the eggs and taking care of the newborns.”

The director of Hong Duc Publishing House said “there is a mistake” in saying camel is the largest bird.

But he refused to elaborate.

The camel page of the book has caused public outrage over the carelessness of the publisher, shortly after the photo surfaced on Facebook.

Local people have also tried to explain how the word ‘camel’ could be mistakenly used while the book section obviously wants to talk about ostrich.

One of the most backed explanations is that the original version of the book used ‘camel bird’ to refer to ostrich, and the person in charge of translating the book into Vietnamese just did not get that word.

Camel bird is usually referred to Arabian ostrich, whose scientific name is struthio camelus syriacus, which comes from the Greek words meaning ‘camel sparrow’.

The Vietnamese translator therefore could have misunderstood ‘camel bird’ for ‘camel,’ and he ended up using ‘camel’ for the entire story that should have been about ostrich. 

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