Natural life park inhabitants befriend caregivers
At the İzmir Wildlife Park, the warm relationship between caretakers and the wild animals have surprised visitors. The natural park, which was established by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality in Sasalı Region on an area of 4,125 square meters, is home to about 3,000 animals of 134 species.
The employees are very interested in caring for the animals that seem frightening, as though they are looking after their own children.
While their communication with wild animals such as snakes, lions, tigers, elephants make visitors surprised, their bonds with adorable inhabitants such as lemurs, parrots and ponies make them smile.
Within the scope of the new type of coronavirus (COVID-19) measures, the caregivers, who never left the animals feel abandoned, continued their daily work without interruption during this period.
Now the park was reopened to visitors and is waiting for its guests again.
One of the employees, Mustafa Kara said he has been caring for lions, tigers and pumas since 2008.
Stating that a lion cub, named Efe, has a special place in his heart, Kara said, “I witnessed Efe’s birth on June 29 last year. Her mother is Salma and her father is Tao. There is a special bond between us. We are very good right now, but after a while I have to get away from him so that he does not lose his wild soul. If I keep touching him like I do now, the animal may lose its natural features.”
Elephant caretaker Hüseyin Dilber said that he has been caring for the animals named Winner, Begüm Can, Deniz and İzmir, and added, “I have been taking care of these animals for nine years. Little Deniz was born into our hands. Therefore, his place is separate. She is now five years old. She was 105 kilos when she was born, but now I have a friend who weighs 1,800 kilograms.”
The veterinarian technician, İlker Ömer Ertop, who takes care of reptiles such as snakes in the tropical center, said that he has been working in the center for 13 years.
With a corn snake in his hand, Ertop said, “I have been responsible for reptiles for nine years. The corn snake has been here for about 12 years and is 15 years old. It is taller than two meters because we take good care of it. It is a calm animal, I know him very well and act with him accordingly.”
Erol Bektaş, the caretaker of lemurs from Madagascar, said that he has been caring for them for nine years and has chosen this task voluntarily.
Stating that he has a special bond with animals, Bektaş said, “I take care of 15 adults and three babies born this year. In the morning, I check all of them one by one, if there is no problem such as weakness; I give the menu prepared by experts. I am together with them during the day, I feed them again in the afternoon. I love them like my kids, they know me, too. They come to me as soon as I hear my voice.”
The director of the park, Şahin Afşin said the park opened to visitors after a long time due to COVID-19 and now it can be visited within the scope of some rules.
Drawing attention to the relationship between the animals in the Wildlife Park and their caregivers, Afşin said: “Although we were closed for a long time, our teammates were always here. They were closely interested in the care of animals. We have 134 species here; their relationships with their caregivers are very different. They take care of them at the time of feeding, too. The animals are also sensitive to the sounds and images of their caregivers. They know them. There is an emotional relationship.”