The first safari park in Turkey opened on April 23 in the southeastern province of Gaziantep on an area of 15,000 square meters in the Gaziantep Zoo.
In the opening ceremony, Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin said 25 species of animals were living together in the park. “Camels, reeds, eagles and others are living here. They actually give a lesson to people about how to live together in peace without cages,” she said. Student groups, who came to Turkey from various places for the April 23 Children’s Day celebrations, performed shows in the Safari Park opening.
The Gaziantep Zoo is home to more than 7,000 animals. It is the first in Turkey, second in Europe and fourth in the world in terms of surface area and the number of animal species. The new Safari Park has some 200 animals of 70 species. The different species have been placed in different area of the park.
Gaziantep Municipality official Celal Özsöyler said the zoo had an area of 1 million square kilometers and was visited by nearly a million people annually. He said they have helped realize new projects to keep the interest in the zoo alive. “One of these projects is this park,” he said, adding that hundreds of animals were living freely.
“The park has been opened completely with our own resources. Among the animals for now are camels, horses, deer, kangaroos, llamas and fowl. We have put animals in the same places considering if they get on with each other. On specially designed protected vehicles, visitors will be able to see the animals in their natural environment without wire nets,” Özsöyler said.
The Safari Park is expected to draw one million visitors in a year.