Lottery ticket seller feeds stray cats in Saigon Zoo

The COVID-19 has taken a toll on many people’s incomes, especially for street vendors and lottery ticket sellers whose lifelines have always been dependent on the kindness of passersby.

For the lottery ticket seller in this story, even financial worries couldn’t stop her from feeling compassion for those whose livelihoods are even more precarious than hers. For the longest time, she has been feeding over 15 cats in Saigon Zoo & Botanical Gardens with her own money.

Compassionate Saigon lottery ticket seller feeds stray cats

Saigon zoo_lottery ticket seller
Image adapted from: Minh Nhậtt

The lottery ticket seller sitting on a bench in the Saigon Zoo, surrounded by a group of cats everywhere she moves, is a common sight for both regular visitors and staff members alike.

At first glance, people might think that these cats belong to her, but they don’t. 3 out of these cats originally belonged to a zookeeper who left them with Saigon Zoo after retiring. Since then, more kittens have been produced and there are over 15 cats now.

Since Saigon Zoo is also struggling to take care of other animals, which have amounted to over 1,500, these cats’ lives are completely at the mercy of kind staff members and visitors.

Feeling compassion for the cats, the lady brings them food every day around noon. She usually asks for leftovers from nearby restaurants to feed them, and sometimes buys takeout food for them – costing from VND25,000-VND40,000 (~USD1.08-USD1.73) per portion.

That might not be a significant sum of money for many people, but it is a huge expense given her meagre income. A lottery ticket is priced at VND10,000 (~USD0.42), out of which the seller gains a profit of only 10% on average. For a lottery ticket seller to earn about VND100,000 (~USD4.21) per day, which is only enough to cover the most basic expenses in Saigon, he or she has to sell at least 100 tickets per day.

Saigon zoo_lottery ticket seller
Visitors support her by buying lottery tickets from her
Image credit: Minh Nhậtt

To lend her a helping hand in feeding the cats, many visitors have called upon one another to drop by and support her by buying lottery tickets.

Poor yet charitable residents of Saigon

Without spotlights shining on them nor photos shared widely on social media platforms about their good deeds, many other Saigonese residents are also quietly taking care of stray animals out of sheer compassion. 

Saigon zoo_toy vendor
Image adapted from:

Ms Hong Tuyet Mai, a street vendor selling toys in the Saigon Zoo, is also known for her charitable acts. For over 23 years, she’s been using her meagre income to buy food to feed birds, cats, and squirrels around Saigon.

Saigon zoo_toy vendor
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Her full day is usually spent on shopping for food, cooking, and wandering the streets of Saigon to look for animals to feed.

Saigon zoo_Notre Dame Cathedral vendor
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Visitors to Saigon’s Notre Dame Cathedral in District 1 often come across a group of pigeons walking all over the pavement, which have become a fixture of the attraction. Many tourists drop by to feed them and take photos with them.   

Unbeknownst to many, they are actually already fed daily by Ms Nguyen Ngoc Quang Thanh, a street vendor selling drinks across the street. For over 10 years, she has been feeding the pigeons with her own money, rain or shine.

To support Ms Thanh, many visitors drop by her stall every day to buy drinks from her and bring food for the birds.

Saigon’s charitable street vendors and lottery ticket seller feeding stray cats

Many people have this idea that Saigon is a big, fast-paced, and isolating city where the residents are too busy with their lives to care about other people. That can’t be more wrong, as we’re still seeing heart-warming stories where Saigon residents come together to support both our human and animal friends in their own quiet ways.

From giving out free food and groceries to feeding animals, our residents are still reassuring one another that humanity and unity will still prevail despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Cover image adapted from: Minh Nhậtt

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