Floortje and Jasper’s next stop on their way to Nepal is Turkey, where a new animal welfare law has recently been introduced. They do this in a modern all-terrain vehicle, but for years it was considered normal in Turkey to travel on camelback: an animal that has played an important role in Turkish society for thousands of years. They are used not only as a means of transportation, but also as cargo and food beasts. It is even used for wars, but that time is up. Today they are mainly used for entertainment, for example to ride tourists. But also for an entirely different form of entertainment: camel wrestling, an ancient tradition still popular in southern Turkey—to the astonishment of Floretti and Jasper.
Floreti and Jasper also have a private meeting with successful businessman Mert Akuk, who has run a company for years that organizes large medical conferences. Almost like his Instagram posts, however, they are not about his work, but about what is really his heart: with the many animals that he has collected around him in recent years and that others have left to their fate.
A few years ago, Mert traded his home in Istanbul for a home in the province, in order to focus entirely on caring for the animals. Unfortunately, Mert can only take care of a limited number of animals at home, so he regularly takes a car full of dog food to a nearby forest. This is where people come from far and wide to dump dogs they no longer want to foster. “They see that we’re doing it, and so we feel less guilty,” Mert explains. “They know they won’t die because we feed them. (…) I do what I can. I try to protect as many animals as possible. I make them happy. I hope to set an example.”
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