Residents ‘sleepless’ due to lions roaring at Ankara zoo

Residents ‘sleepless’ due to lions roaring at Ankara zoo

Residents ‘sleepless’ due to lions roaring at Ankara zoo

Residents of a neighborhood in the Gölbaşı district of the capital Ankara have complained about a zoo that opened one-and-a-half months ago in the middle of a residential area, saying they cannot sleep at nights because of lions that were “roaring” at nights.

“Lions are leaving us sleepless because they roar all night. There is a bad smell in the air because they urinate. Our peace is totally disrupted,” a local said in a complaint sent to the Gölbaşı Municipality.

But the owner of the zoo, who rented the 4,000-square-meter land in 2015 says they are not doing “anything wrong.”

“Lions roar once or twice a day. We are not bothering anybody,” Ahmet Zeki Öner, the businessman running Aslanpark (Lion Park), told Demirören News Agency.

Relations between Öner and the residents were alright until 2020, when the business decided to convert the cafe he was running for five-and-a-half years into a zoo.

He started bringing animals to his cafe from two zoos, one in the northwestern province of Balıkesir and the other in the southern province of Antalya.

Shortly, the growing number of animals in the cafe inspired him to convert the cafe into “Aslanpark” over a month ago.

That was when the nightmare for the residents of the İncek neigborhood began.

“I have lived here since 1996. How can a zoo be opened in the middle of buildings? The roaring, the smell, the mosquitos… We are sick of this,” said Niyazi Gürel, one of the complainants asking the municipality to close the zoo.

“What if a lion escapes the zoo? Who is going to catch it?” he added.

Merve Nur Özkan, the lawyer of the residents, accused Öner of not taking enough precautions. “There is no fence between the zoo and the buildings. There is no emergency exit as there has to be at every zoo,” she said.

“The badly-nourished animals have been all skin and bones.”

Yılmaz Kıbrıs, the owner of the land, also agrees with the residents. He took the case to the prosecutor’s office to evict the tenant, accusing Öner of “causing zoning pollution,” “forgery of documents” and “opposition to animal rights laws.”

“He rented the land to open a restaurant. He has three more years according to the rental contract. But there is a misuse of the land now,” Kıbrıs noted.

However, according to the owner of the zoo, “there is no smell” and “everything is legal and lawful.”

“We have 12 lions, two tigers, monkeys, deer and peacocks in the zoo,” Öner said.

“Lions sleep 20 hours a day. They roar once or twice a day which only takes one or two minutes. We do not disturb or annoy the surroundings.”

He said the business has all the legal permissions from the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks.