Visitors enjoying Turkey’s ‘genbank’

Visitors enjoying Turkey’s ‘genbank’

KOCAELİ – Anadolu Agency
Visitors enjoying Turkey’s ‘genbank’

AA photo

Dubbed the “living genbank” since it is home to many endangered animals, the Faruk Yalçın Zoo in Darıca close to Istanbul received 400,000 visitors last year. 

Education and Marketing Director Gökmen Aydın said the zoo in the northwestern province of Kocaeli was home to 3,600 animals from 286 species, making it the zoo with the most species in Turkey. 

He said the zoo was established on a botanical park of 8,000 plants from 600 species, allowing visitors to view rare plants as well as animals at the zoo. 

The zoo is home to a number of animals listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. “In order to enter this list, the number of an animal species that can reproduce has to be low. Here, we have 40 species on this Red List. Some of them are the pygmy hippo, bald ibis and black jaguar. Their numbers are very low in nature,” Aydın said. 

As well as the animals on the IUCN Red List, Aydın said the Faruk Yalçın Zoo was also home to animals that are not found at any other Turkish zoo. “Among them are the Indian rhinoceros, Aldabra giant tortoise and demoiselle crane, which are now hard to find in nature,” he said. 

Aydın said the zoo benefited from being located the centers of two large cities, Istanbul and Kocaeli.

“2016 was very good for us. We hosted nearly 400,000 people, and 10 percent of these people were from Middle Eastern countries. Their interest increases all the time. We believe that we will host more people this year; our goal is to receive 450,000 visitors. The zoo changes every other day, and we make innovations every day. Mostly families with children come here. Children are impressed by the animals and want to come again. Considering this demand, we diversified our education and activities. We will organize events on nature and environment for individual visitors, too,” he said.

The zoo would add new members in 2017, he said. “We have lots of pregnant animals. This is why we have new babies. We are already excited for the birth of new monkeys. Visitors have showed great interest in them, too. The number of our animals will increase this year.” 

Single animals to get partners 

Aydın said they would bring in new animals from abroad this year. “We brought a partner to Samir, Turkey’s first rhino, in 2016. We also brought hyaena hyaena, which was a first in our country. The animals that we will bring this year will be the partners of our animals here,” he said. 

Aydın said that besides animals, they would also bring new plant species. “We particularly look to ensure that it is an endangered species because our goal is to contribute to their survival. It is important for us to show these animals or plants to future generations,” he added. 

Aydın said they implemented a discount in entrance fees in winter months that will continue until Feb. 15, the end of the semester break. 

“Although it is winter and a weekday, we are visited by 250-300 people a day. Again most of them are Middle Eastern tourists. Our visitors come here every season. It is very different to see a Siberian tiger or a red panda. Children see these animals while they are sleeping in summer and active in winter. Summer animals receive heating in closed sections and they can be seen behind windows,” Aydın said.