TURKEY tr-national

İzmir Wildlife Park makes both animals and visitors happy

İZMİR - Daily News with wires | 8/24/2009 12:00:00 AM |

A natural wildlife park in the Aegean province of İzmir gives visitors the chance to see animals in enclosures very similar to their natural habitats.

A wildlife park in operation since November in the Aegean province of İzmir gives visitors a chance to see animals in enclosures very similar to their natural habitats.

Officials say the park, which is home to 1,500 animals from 120 different species, also helps the creatures regain their sense of nature.

The 425-acre İzmir Wildlife Park was built by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality in the style of similar European venues, using natural barriers instead of cages. The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, or EAZA, holds the park up as an example of excellence in technical design.

There are no artificial barriers between animals and people at the park. Instead, natural barriers such as water and ditches are used, in addition to walking bands and watchtowers. Under the supervision of EAZA authorities, animals are provided with conditions approximating natural life.

Park officials told the Anatolia news agency that the conditions in the park have helped the animals regain their natural behaviors, a very important function for a wildlife park.

The hawks’ caretaker, for example, could previously easily feed them in their cages, but now the birds act wild when he enters their enclosure. Wild cats such as lions, tigers and pumas are also much more active compared to the days they spent in cages at the İzmir Zoo.

The İzmir Zoo was established in 1936 in the city’s popular Kültürpark, but closed its doors last August. Animals from the zoo were brought to their new homes in Sasalı in September and October of last year.

Another good example of animals adapting to their new lives is seen in the “African Savannah,” where the ostriches that share the space with zebras and giraffes are naturally incubating their eggs and taking turns sitting on them. The bird pair never incubated when it was at the İzmir Zoo.

Wildlife officials are excited about the event, as it is the first time in Turkey that ostriches kept in a zoo have started breeding. “We do not know if the eggs have been inseminated by the male and if new ostriches will be born,” said one caretaker. “But the important thing here is not whether there will be new ostriches, but the fact that the ostriches are naturally incubating their eggs.”

“We used to have to move the eggs to an artificial incubator,” the caretaker added.

The park’s African Savannah area covers 17,000 square meters and has been arranged to house giraffes, zebras, hippopotamuses and ostriches. Two six-meter watchtowers are available to visitors for sightseeing in the park and a platform has been constructed specifically for African Savannah spectators.

[HH] A popular spot

The İzmir Wildlife Park enjoys a high number of visitors, with more than 500,000 people visiting the park in the first seven months of the year, creating a total income of 492,000 Turkish Liras, or a daily take of 2,300 Turkish Liras, daily Hürriyet reported Monday.

The animals in the park eat a total of 175,000 tons of grass, 50 tons of feed, 20 tons of meat and 90 tons of fruit each year. The cost of feeding the animals is 1,940 liras per day.

The İzmir Metropolitan Municipality has allocated a budget of 6 million liras to the park for this year. The municipality hopes that the park’s income will increase with various activities and souvenir sales, and that it will be able to operate self-sufficiently in the near future.

The tropical center and zoo for children are two very interesting other parts of the park. Snakes, crocodiles, turtles, parrots, fish and various bird species live in the tropical center, the first of its kind in Turkey. Inside the zoo for children, young people can feed animals such as horses, rabbits, geese, chickens, cats and dogs.

In addition, the park also contains a lagoon at the entrance where many water birds live and various areas with natural habitats have been prepared for monkeys, elephants, wild birds, antelopes, goats and camels. A 3,000-square-meter aviary has been designed for domestic birds, where they can fly around and people can feed them.

A special 600-square-meter natural area also gives visitors the chance to feed parrots. Another special area with natural rocks has also been arranged for bald ibis birds, which are in danger of extinction.

The natural water flows, the special landscaping and the plants in the park make visitors feel as if they are walking in a rainforest.

[HH] Getting there

The İzmir Wildlife Park is located in the town of Sasalı in the province’s Çiğli district, two kilometers away from İzmir's bird paradise. Bus number 777 goes to the park from the Bostanlı Ferry Landing. Detailed information about bus departure times is available online at http://www.izmir.bel.tr/en/otobus.asp.

Visitors who prefer to travel by private car can park in the lot at the entrance free of charge. Admission to the wildlife park is 0.5 liras for children and students and 1.5 liras for adults.



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