As old, wooden ballot boxes have been replaced with new, transparent modern compartments used for voting at election time, the former boxes are being recycled for a new purpose, hosting the stray cats of Gaziantep as little "cat houses." Unlike the animals of the Gaziantep Zoo, which enjoy the comforts of natural habitats formed and maintained by the Gaziantep Municipal Office for the Protection of Natural Wildlife, feral cats that roam the streets of the province are left to fend for themselves, albeit unforgotten by local residents.
Upon approval from Supreme Election Committee officials, the Gaziantep Municipal Office for the Protection of Natural Wildlife repaired wooden ballot boxes that had been deemed useless into sturdy shelters for feral cats, offering them protection in hot and cold weather all year round.
The former ballot boxes have been recycled for use as "cat houses" and are now being distributed to animal lovers free of charge. The boxes are being placed in strategic spots around the city to offer shelter to stray street cats.
Gaziantep Municipal Office for the Protection of Natural Wildlife head Celal Özsöyler spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA) and stated that officials are working to serve the city's stray animal population as well as those housed in the local zoo in the best way possible.
City officials have placed the cat houses in local parks, focused especially on providing shelter for stray cats, while Özsöyler also said they support the animals by providing water and food to the animals on a regular basis.
Speaking about how the concept was born, Özsöyler said he and his team came up with the idea after examining the wooden ballot boxes and applying to the Supreme Election Committee to discuss the issue.
With the committee's approval, the team refurbished the boxes with the help of the Gaziantep Zoo's carpentry department. Providing information about the process, Özsöyler said, "We covered the wooden ballot boxes with protective plates to protect animals from harsh weather conditions. We have already placed 250 shelters around the city in strategic locations such as various parks, homes and apartment gardens. We are monitoring the situation to assure the cat houses are used for their intended purpose. We have received very positive feedback about the shelters and are receiving increased demand for them. We are asking the Supreme Election Committee for more boxes to keep up with demand."