Gaziantep Zoo aiming to draw 5 million visitors
The Gaziantep Zoo, home to 10,000 animals of 400 species on approximately 1.5 million square meters of green area, is expecting to welcome 5 million people this year as the ongoing coronavirus vaccine program in the country is raising hopes to bring lives back to normal.
Turkey’s largest zoo, which used to receive 3 million visitors every year before the pandemic, animals such as hippopotamuses, snakes, lions, crocodiles, camels, elephants and monkeys are specially cared for.
Injured animals from the surrounding provinces and cities are brought and are treated by veterinarians in the zoo. Around 450 sick or wounded animals were treated in 2020.
The zoo hosted 1 million visitors in 2020 despite being closed for a while, and they are aiming to reach 5 million visitors this year, said Celal Özsöyler, the head of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality’s Wildlife Protection Department.
“Nearly 1 million people visited the Gaziantep Zoo in 2020. We did not receive visitors for a period of three months due to the pandemic. After which we accepted a certain number of visitors to closed areas while adhering to social distancing rules,” Özsöyler said.
“Of course, 1 million is a too low figure for us -- some 4 million people visited the Gaziantep zoo in 2019. We believe that 5 million visitors will come this year. We have taken all the necessary measures right now,” Özsöyler said, adding that they regularly make announcements about following coronavirus measures, maintaining social distance, and using hand sanitizers.
Stating that they will also make a safari area where there will be predators, Özsöyler said, “We have new projects. We will create a safari area of predators to our existing safari park. We are also thinking of adding a new reptile, and we will constantly increase the number of visitors. Every time people come, they will encounter a different innovation here.”
Noting that they treated 450 injured or sick animals in 2020, Özsöyler said: “The zoo also acts as a rescue center. Injured or sick animals are brought to the Gaziantep Zoo, and we do the necessary treatments. After their treatment is over, if they can maintain their lives, we release them to nature again.”
“We also take care of the ones that cannot survive in nature, and they are taken care of in the zoo all the time,” he added.