EDIRNE, Turkey

The extraordinary friendship between a man and a whooper swan in Turkey’s northwest has been going strong for almost 40 years.

It was in 1984 when Recep Mirzan, a retired postman, found the wounded bird with a broken wing as he delivered mail in a remote village in Edirne province and rescued him.

He then decided to take care of the bird and brought him home for treatment and named him “Garip” (poor fellow) after fixing the wing by using pieces of wood and rope.

The swan then got well and healthy, able to fly again, however, he did not leave the postman.

A henhouse at Mirzan’s backyard is now Garip’s home. They spend most of their time together as Mirzan tends to his garden, takes a rest and even the two pals go on evening walks.

Mirzan’s wife passed away years ago and he is with his beloved animals most of the time now. He said Garip is his dearest pet.

“While working as a postman, my friend and I found this beauty in a garden. It was winter,” he said.

“It comes to me when I call. I am 63 years old. He may even be older than me. He has been here since 1984, he has never left me. He used to be more lively, but he is old now. If he dies, I will make a beautiful grave for him here, but I hope we will live together for a long time.”

The symbol of purity and nobility, the whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) can live for 30-35 years in nature and much longer in sheltered places and nature parks.

The whooper swans, which especially come to Turkey in the winter season, migrate to Northern Europe to breed in spring.

*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev in Ankara

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