By Zuhal Kocalar
Four lion cubs, given as a gift to Turkey's president from his Sudanese counterpart during a recent visit to Africa, went on public display on Saturday.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir announced the gift to Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the latter's official visit to the Horn of Africa country between Dec. 24 and 27.
The female cubs were named after Nile and Sultan, while the males were named Sudan and Suakin, Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Sahin told a news conference at the Gaziantep Zoo.
She said she was told of the names during a phone conversation with Erdogan on Friday.
The lions were delivered to their new home -- the biggest zoo in Turkey and the third largest in Europe -- on Thursday.
Sahin said the cubs were being looked after very well, and invited Erdogan and his family to visit the zoo to see it for themselves.
Cigdem Karaaslan, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's deputy chairwoman, said the lions were "the symbol of a strong dialogue" between Turkey and Sudan.
The party's Gaziantep deputy Nejat Kocer pointed out that "lions represent strength" and said they were the signs of Turkey's and Erdogan's power.
An average of 3.5 million animal lovers visit Gaziantep Zoo annually.
Reporting by Zuhal Kocalar:Writing by Ayse Humeyra Atilgan
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