May 6, 2013, Updated May 5, 2013

The 40 ‘passengers’ on Tuesday’s Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul are part of a special animal exchange between the Zoological Center Tel Aviv – Ramat Gan Safari and the Izmir Sasali Wildlife Park.

The modern day Noah’s Ark cast – set to move house on May 7 – will include three zebras, six antelopes, three monkeys, three meerkats, four raccoons, six fruit bats, and 20 ibises.

The Safari has a healthy population of zebras and Safari spokeswoman Sagit Horowitz said it is the world’s leading zoo in zebra exports.

Several months ago, Turkish zookeepers in Izmir asked Ramat Gan Safari for help in boosting their zoological collection.

The Ramat Gan Safari – like other zoos in Israel — is a member of the international zoological organization and regularly participates in exchanging animals to promote breeding and bolster exhibits at other zoos. But Horowitz noted this is the biggest exchange in which the Ramat Gan Safari has ever taken part.

Horowitz also said that although Israel and Turkey may be at diplomatic odds with one another; animals are the true gesture of cooperation and always override politics.

The best proof for this notion is Izmir the elephant.

In 2008, the Safari sent Winner, a captive-born Asian elephant, to the Izmir Wildlife Park as part of a breeding program exchange. In 2011, Winner and his Pakistan-born ‘wife’ Begumcan, welcomed the birth of Turkey’s first elephant on its soil – Izmir.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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