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Turgut Egemen & Zoo

I convey the story of Turgut Egemen, one of the founders and former president of the Islands Water Sports Club (A.S.S.K) , and the zoo he established in Burgaz Island, with this article, which I compiled through newspapers, documentaries and books in my collection.

Günaydın Newspaper.14 June 1976.

Baby lions became monsters in 6 months

The two baby lions that Turgut Egemen, who is a member of the Istanbul City Council, took when they were five months old and started to grow in the garden of his home on Burgaz Island, have grown rapidly and now they are not bringing anyone else near them.

Günaydın Newspaper 14 June 1976

''Özgür'' and ''Barış''

Turgut Egemen, who took one of the eleven months old lions from Gülhane Park and the other from Izmir Zoo and fed them with raw meat and vitamins in his home on Burgaz Island: "The lions got used to me. I go in and out of their cage. They don't do anything to me. But when they see someone else, they get cranky and roar. They are strong enough to shatter a person. '' Turgut Egemen, a member of the City Council, who feeds the lions he calls "Özgür" and "Barış" (means "Free" and "Peace" in English) with about 10 kilos of raw meat a day. "They grew so fast that I was surprised. I bring all the meat in the butcher's shops in two separate districts of Istanbul, but it is enough. If they grow a little bit more, it will be an issue to feed them. ''

Turgut Egemen while feeding his lions
Korhan Atay. Those who left their mark on the Istanbul Islands. Adalı Publishing.

Hurrying to catch the 8:15 ferry, journalist and writer Engin Aktel noticed that panicked islanders were taking refuge in buildings and climbing trees. Before he could wonder ''What is happening?'' he saw a lion coming straight toward him. He took cover but he was not suprised. He knew the lion. He used to pet Turgut Egemen's lions when they were young and was even bitten by one of them.

Islands Museum First Port Exhibition Catalog: Those who left marks on the Istanbul Islands

After Taso, the famous Burgaz Island gardener, died, Turgut Egemen set up a zoo on the site now occupied by the Alevi assembly house and garden restaurants. The zoo featured lions, bear, antelopes, camels and monkeys. He got the lions as cubs and used to take them to the water sports club he had founded and let everyone pet them. Once in a while there were little escapes like this, but no one complained since no harm was done. The zoo was closed at the end of the 1970s.

Turgut Egemen with lions. Islands Museum Archive. Photo: Kadir Can

Taso's garden

When you turn right after passing the fire department in Burgaz Island, it was in the area where Djemevi (Cemevi), country restaurants, coffees and houses with beautiful gardens are located. When you went to Taso's garden, you could take the fruits and vegetables by removing them from their branches and eat some on the spot. You can find everything in his garden. Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, peas, beans, broad beans, parsley, peppermint, arugula, cress, lettuce ... Everything was cut and fresh. There were also fruit trees. Plum, orange, tangerine, pomegranate, quince ... This most popular shopping place of the islanders could not be kept alive after the death of Taso. In 1960, Turgut Egemen founded a zoo there. After the zoo was closed, the area was left for construction.

Pars Tuğlacı. Istanbul Islands Throughout History Volume II. Cem Publishing.

Marko Pasha House

House number 4 and two-storey garden on an area of 768 m2 on Mezarlık Street, from the first owner Dr. Marko Pasha to Istanbul Municipality (15 November 1937), and then to Vasil Özsuvaridis (respectively) through forced sales. 17 October 1940), Turgut Egemen (17 October 1970), Faruk Aykan (11 November 1974), Mustafa Canan and Fatma Canan (23 July 1981), and then Katerina (Keti) Egemen (by inheritance). It was purchased by Fatma Sacide Teber and Suat Teber after the passage of 24 September 1986 (29 December 1989). This house, which is registered as an old building, was demolished by its last owner, and today's masonry building was built.

The house of Turgut Egemen,built in place of the destroyed wooden house of Marko Pasha on #4 Mezarlik Street.

Businessman from Istanbul, Municipal Committee (Parliament) member and Island Water Sports Club President Turgut President, to never feed two as in a special cage in the house on the island, the foundation of the first private zoo in Turkey had taken (1973). He named the lion one as "Barış" and the early one as "Özgür". Turgut Egemen's curiosity, which started with the love of a lion, had increased steadily and eventually a zoo was formed. In this place where there are lions, horses, bears, wolves, gazelles and many more animals, every living friend was getting along. For example, wolves and bears, lions and horses, gazelles and bulls wandered in the same cage and got along well. The three-year-old "Poney" breed horses sent their relatives as a gift from Germany to Turgut Egemen. He also made these saddlesand allowed children on the island to roam free of charge with these horses. These horses, which are smaller than the pony breed, became the favorite of all children on Burgaz Island. The lions, "Barış" and "Özgür", over one year old, were fed by him in getting to know their owners.

Turgut Egemen and his wife Keti with their animals and visitor friends in their homes on the island

Turgut Egemen, whom I met in October of 1975, told me: "We managed to mutify these cute but predatory creatures with our own unique methods. They do not do any combat and do not go out of our word. Puppies add happiness to our togetherness. Since we have no children, we gave all our love to the two lion cubs that we love very much. We feed them by giving them plenty of meat and we lie in the same room. We relieve the tiredness of the day by joking with them. Our lions do not compromise our guests who come to our house. They even let them embrace and be loved ''. Stating that he believes that Bülent Ecevit will come to power in the first elections because he is from the CHP, Turgut Egemen said, 'As soon as he become prime minister, we will present our beloved lions to him'.

Pars Tuğlacı. Istanbul Islands in History Volume II

Nilüfer Uzunoğlu. Antigoni Small Island, Our Life. 2013. Documentary. DVD.

Nilüfer Uzunoğlu. Antigoni Small Island, Our Life. 2013. Documentary. DVD.

The last day before Dr.Pavlos Rahcopoulos left Burgaz Island, if you want to watch an unpleasant and sweet memory with Turgut Egemen in his own narration, the documentary is uploaded by Nilüfer Uzunoğlu to (I gave the link to start from the scene I posted below).

A scene from the documentary, Dr. Pavlos Rahcopoulos with friends

One day before I left, a friend invited me to his cruiser. I don't drink but he said let's drink whiskey, because he knew I was gone. I'm going towards Indos. Turgut had a zoo around the corner. I see Turgut in front of there. I hugged and kissed. What are you doing? Pavlos. Why you hug and kiss, he said. I said Turgut, I'm going tomorrow. So where are you going? I'm going to Athens, but I'm not going back. Turgut then stopped. He looks at me now I'm looking at Turgut. It's very unpleasant. At the same time, I can say that in a sweet situation, two friends meet in Burgaz last. Turgut stayed there. Then he said, Pavlos, I thought you would get the final Apoyevmatini (Greek newspaper). I was thinking that you will not leave us until now. Since you've decided, well, my son. Turgut was bigger than me. Afterthat I went to the cruiser and stayed for about an hour or two. Turgut was there on the way back and waited for me. Even when I say that now my eyes are filled with tears.

Additional documents:

Korhan Atay. Those who left their mark on the Istanbul Islands, 96

Korhan Atay. Those who left their mark on the Istanbul Islands, 97

Pars Tuğlacı. Marko Pasha House

Pars Tuğlacı. Istanbul Islands in History Volume II, 255

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