One of Turkey’s largest zoos is looking to find mates for its single elephants, a female jaguar and male hippotamus.
Celal Özsöyler, the head of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality’s wildlife protection department, said the zoo is home to the world’s rarest animals and that they put great effort for the animals’ health and happiness. Now, they are working to find partners for the single ones.
He said that the 14-year-old male elephants Gabi and Pili have been living in the zoo since 2010 and is in talks with a Sri Lankan zoo to bring a partner for Gabi, the world’s first elephant born via caesarian section, and his friend Pili, and had received a positive return.
Özsöyler also that they also make plans to bring partners for the female jaguar Hasret and three hippopotamuses.
“We have held talks with South African officials to bring a female and male rhino, as well as two female and a male giraffes. This way, we will bring partners for our single animals, and the zoo will have new species. Currently we are home to 7,500 animals of 350 species. We choose large areas for their happiness and peace.”
Özsöyler said the number of visitors to the zoo is gradually increasing. Last year, it had 4 million visitors.
“This year we established a two-hectare tropical butterfly garden and brought 20,000 butterflies of 120 species. We planted flowers that butterflies love and we set the temperature and humidity at 25 degrees Celsius. Its opening will be made in the coming days. We believe that this place will increase the number of visitors to 5 million by the end of this year. Also, the chimpanzee island has been finished; we will transfer our chimpanzees there. They will have a more comfortable and more natural environment,” he said.
Özsöyler said that they also have a new project for the zoo, adding, “We will organize safaris for predatory animals. Lions and tigers will be in a free environment and visitors will visit them inside closed and protected vehicles. This will be a first in Turkey. In 2016 we organized a safari for deer, gazelles, ostriches, various birds and horses.”