Gurabahane-i Laklakan is the first animal hospital built for the purpose of caring for birds, especially storks, during the Ottoman period in the 1800s. Gurabahane-i Laklakan also means “Storks’ Doss-House.” It was founded in Osmangazi, Bursa, and Osmangazi was chosen for a special reason: it is located on the path of the birds’ natural migration, so it was decided that the hospital would be constructed there. The practical area of the hospital is about 350 square meters, and it was designed across three floors.
It is known that the hospital name Gurabahane-i Laklakan inspired Turkish poet Ahmet Haşim. Haşim was born in 1885. He had visited many cities in the world for his family responsibilities and due to life circumstances. When he travelled, the smells, the colors, the animals, and the cities affected him and merged with the power of observation. All of these things made Ahmet Haşim a poet! He rendered spoken words in an impressive style, which were compiled into his book Gurabahane-i Laklakan, published in 1928. It tells us everything from the life forms of storks to what climates and places they like, discussing their eating and drinking habits and their personal features.
Besides Gurabahane-i Laklakan, he has written many other texts about animals. His writings titled Animal Resurrection and Torture of Animals is about innocent slaughtered animals. Ahmet Haşim is one of the most prominent animal lovers of Turkish literature history. His “Piyale” and “Göl Saatleri” can also make you feel like you are in a birds’ sanctuary. Apart from these, he has also individual articles. He has written not only about cute animals but also about bed-bugs and insects.
It is clear that his love of animal dates back to his childhood years, with a focus on squirrels, birds, etc. in the book Frankfurt Seyahatnamesi. Ahmet Haşim visited a zoo in Paris in 1928. He tells us in his essay “Hayvanlar Arasında” that the chimpanzees sadly huddle each other, and the gorillas presented a sad image with their loneliness in the cages. Ahmet Haşim who depicts the streets and animals of Bursa in 1800s, mentioned nearly all creatures across his essays.
The first animal hospital Gurabahane-i Laklakan was built in Ayakkabıcılar Çarşısı square, known in Bursa as Haffaflar Çarşısı. People started to cure storks’ broken legs or wings, or treat a bird’s injured eyes. This place was not the only one in Ottoman to take care of animals. In those years, there were not many wheeled vehicles, and animals were frequently used to carry items. When those animals aged, they were left to this kind of animals flophouse to be taken care of.
The world’s first animal hospital, Gurabahane-i Laklakan, has helped many birds over the years. However, due to the battles and riots, it was neglected and almost disappeared. Today, Osmangazi Municipality has remedied this situation. After restoration, the hospital began operations once again. The hospital is an example of civil architecture after reconstruction of the building next to the Irgandı Bridge. The building now serves as The Veterinary Department of Osmangazi Municipality where pets and other animals get service.