Ormanya, the largest natural reserve in Europe and the third-largest in the world, has reopened its doors to eager visitors in the northwestern province of Kocaeli. The reopening comes amid a widely welcomed transition to controlled social rules across Turkey in the wake of months of nationwide curfews and lockdown measures aimed at combatting the spread of the coronavirus.
Park officials say they will check all visitors' temperatures and that they are wearing face masks upon entrance, adding that those without an appropriate face mask or covering would not be permitted onto park grounds. Disinfectant dispensers have also been placed throughout the premises to encourage visitors to practice good hygiene.
Speaking on the occasion, Mayor Tahir Büyükakın said kids have been longing for the reopening of Ormanya in Kartepe district.
"This is an area where close to 70 species live and a space that facilitates the controlled reproduction of species such as deer. At the end of September, we will initiate a process to release the deer into the wild on the Kandıra Seyrek side of the park. This area will be full of training and events to teach kids about recreational fishing, allowing families to come together to participate in competitions," he said.
Büyükakın said the park served not only as a placid area to unwind but also a great educational opportunity for children to see animals in their natural habitats and raise their consciousness of the environment.
Established by Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality in 2018 over an area spanning 4,000 decades (988 acres), Ormanya hosts a zoo, wildlife rehabilitation center, 26 kilometers (16.2 miles) of hiking and biking trails, as well as designated camping, tent and caravan areas. The park even offers nature-themed courses for children. From horses, alpacas, deer and antelopes to birds such as ducks, swans and peacocks, as well as reptiles like snakes or iguanas, the park is home to a rich amount of biodiversity.
Arguably the biggest attraction for kids is the Orman Köy village, with its miniature timber houses that look fit for hobbits. These mound-homes have proven quite a hit with adults, too. The nature and wildlife park is approximately a 1.5-hour drive from Istanbul.
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