The Anatolian Hybrids

29 Jan

Ilgun Toker, a multi-billionaire, considered himself the greatest animal-lover as well as hunter in Izmir.

The ship-owner was an important figure on the business scene of Turkey’s second largest port, only outdone by Istanbul.

But the primary private interest of the bachelor in his seventies was the fauna of his native land of seventy million. That was the reason he invited the head of the Hayvan Genetic Institute to visit and talk with him at his country mansion on the periphery of Izmir.

The chief genetic biologist, Dr. Emek Ayan, rode in a limousine sent to pick him up at the central train depot in the city. Why does this important, busy capitalist wish to see me? wondered the young scientist. Perhaps the man wishes to make a financial contribution to our work with genetic hybridization.

The palatial residence topped a high ridge like a centuries-old military castle. It was located in the middle of a vast estate of forested acres and wavelike hills. The wealthy owner was waiting at the entrance door, showing the value he placed on this particular guest.

Ilgun Toker was a huge, muscular figure with bright white hair and glowing almond eyes. His face was a pleasant umber shade. He took the hand of his visitor and shook it with surprising strength and vigor.

“I am delighted that you accepted my invitation to come and have a talk, Doctor Atan. If I were not in the transportation business, I would certainly choose to be engaged with animal care and improvement, like you and your Institute are. Let’s go inside and have some refreshments. There are many questions that I have been planning to ask you for a considerable time.”

The host led Emek into the mansion, through a sparkling, ornate vestibule, into a book-lined study where the magnate did a lot of work connected to his business interests. Behind his mahogany desk hung the head of a gigantic wild boar, attached to the wall.

“I have for a considerable time followed the achievements of your breeding institution,” said Ilgun Toker, leaning back into his cushioned, regal-looking great chair. “The horses and the cows that have been created by your genetic experts outperform those anywhere in Europe, I believe. Indeed, every Turk deserves to take pride in our new breeds of at beyeir and inek. And our sheep farms now export the wool and meat of the prize koyun that is a product of you people’s research. All this progress is heartening to all patriots like me.”

The billionaire gave the biologist a warm, radiant smile. “I am aware of the fact that hybrid animals are unable to reproduce themselves through natural means. But in the last several years, surprising breakthroughs have been made in many sections of the world. For instance, in Africa the panther and the leopard have been hybridized into a new pars-leopard that has continued into a new generation. That success was of historical significance.”

“Yes, and here in Turkey our own Institute has endeavored to combine the wolf and the fox into a new, permanent hybrid that we intend to call a kurnaz-kurt. But my colleagues and I believe that realization will come in the near future.”

Ilgun Toker paused several moments, staring at the younger man, before he proceeded to the objective he had in mind.

“As you probably know, I have always been a dedicated hunter. That is the most precious private, individual passion of my life. I am an active member of several of our Turkish hunting associations. It has been my ambition to contribute to that sector of our sport and recreation before I leave this world. There is a plan I have devised to accomplish just that, Dr. Atan.

“This is what I plan to do immediately. I shall donate sufficient funds to your Hayvan Institute to establish a new research program dedicated to the creation of an advanced hybrid that is capable of reproducing itself. This shall be a new version of our famous Anatolian wild boar, the prized target of hunters in our country for many centuries. There is no other animal we seek to hunt as much as the one we call the Attila boar. But its numbers have been in sharp decline for over a generation, and the time has come to save this bezoar ibex of ours through radical hybridization with another wild species of the hayvan kingdom.

“I wish to support and pay for a combination of our bezoar with the Anatolian yaban.”

Emek gave a sudden look of astonishment. “The wildcat and the bezoar together as a single animal!” he blurted out. His eyes appeared to dilate.

The rich man grinned. “That is what I intend to leave to our beloved homeland. My whole life will come to have intrinsic meaning when your organization has succeeded in making our native wild boar into the prime game to be hunted on our planet. You must make a hybrid that is fiercer and wilder than anything else in our mountain forests. Something that will bring the hunters of the entire world here to Anatolia this yaban-bezoar.

“Will you agree to mobilize your Hayvan Institute, with its team of skilled geneticists, behind this dream of mine, Doctor?”

Emek nodded his head yes. “This promises to be a milestone in animal genetics,” he mumbled under his breath.

The Hayvan Institute operated in a mountainous area next to half a million hectares of isolated natural preserve that held wild bezoars, goats, and deer.

As soon as Emek was back, he conferred on the project with the senior geneticist, Deger Metin. The two sat across from each other in the Director’s Spartan office in the main laboratory. Tall and spare, the dark-haired Deger seemed shocked by the boldness of the new direction to be subsidized by the shipping billionaire.

“That is going to be an adventurous leap forward,” he said with wonderment.
“We shall have to stretch our capabilities to the limit. The odds of winning out will be very steep ones, I have no doubt of that.”

“Can we hope to transfer specifically wildcat DNA into the genome of the bezoar and then have that combination over and over?” inquired the Director of the Hayvan Institute. “Is our molecular technology smart and nimble enough to attain such a goal?”

Dr. Metin grimaced. “It will be a difficult operation to carry out, because nothing so complicated has yet been done with wild mammals like the wildcat yaban or the bezoar. The first aim will be to determine what specific restriction enzyme would permit the insertion of particular yaban genes into the second species’ DNA. Only when and if new protean creation occurs can the operation be considered a success.”

“Then it may take us considerable time,” mused Emek, pursing his lips.

“If we are lucky, it may come about quickly,” said Deger, sighing.

It took the team of genetic engineers only nine months to complete the assignment that at first looked like one that would take years.

“By using programmed simulations, we were able to save a lot of time,” reported Deger to the Director.

The latter smiled with joy. “I must inform Ilgun Toker of this immediately,” he declared. “Since he is paying for all our work, the man deserves to know of our victory.”

The magnate in Izmir announced that he was going to come up to the Institute to see the first baby hybrids born from the combined DNA of the wildcat and boar species. “This is a marvelous achievement by your geneticists,” said Ilgun over the wave-phone. “I want to be up there with you to see the first steps of our new yaban-bezoar. I feel like I am the father and this is my child. But all of us who were involved with the hybridization deserve to be there to celebrate was has been done.”

“It will take us time to study and learn all the characteristics of this new combinational species of hayvan,” warned Emek. “We will find things that none of us foresaw or anticipated, no question of that.”

“I can’t wait to be able to go out in the wild and hunt for this new type of game animal,” muttered Ilgun as if speaking to himself.

A dozen new-born yaban-bezoars wandered about a special polymer pen near the Institute laboratory.

Emek stood beside the billionaire as they gazed at the jumping, frolicking animals as they played and exercised. “We have no way of predicting how they will survive out in the field,” he told the wealthy guest. “This is still an unexplored region of genetic biology. These creatures of ours remain an unknown entity on the frontier of scientific engineering of life forms.”

Ilgun grinned with anticipation. “I am looking forward to the moment when we release them into the mountains and I can begin to hunt them down.”

The small but growing wildcat-boars ran about, sometimes colliding and fighting each other a short time.

“They are certainly rambunctious and possess a large quantity of energy,” said the program’s sponsor with a small laugh.

Emek and Tlgun left for the dining hall of the Institute compound, where a noon lunch was prepared and waiting for them. It was while they were finishing their meal that Deger the genetic engineer approached them with rapid, excited steps. “Something has happened at the holding pen,” he announced, breathing hard.

“What is it?” the Director asked him.

“They broke through the compound fencing, and several of them have escaped into the open fields.”

“You are talking about the new bezoars?” said Emek with a frown.

“Yes. And we do not know for certain how many may have run away before the discovery. A large wooden barrier has been placed over the rupture in the wire fence. But we must now send out patrols to try to capture those that fled out of the compound. It will be hard to find and recover them.”

Emek turned to the wealthy visitor. “Please excuse me, sir. I must see what can still be done to restore our control over the animals.”

Ilgun Toker gave a nod of understanding. Emek followed Deger away, toward the place of the escape.

Once it was determined that recapturing the hybrids was impossible without outside help, Emek was compelled to make contact with the Turkish national police, who then in turn summoned the Army Command of the region of Anadolu.

General Gokay arrived at the Hayvan Institute with the cream of his staff with the aim of taking charge of the round-up and averting a great catastrophe. The giant in shining tan uniform stood looking at Emek in the latter’s office.

“This situation has already turned into a serious emergency,” he stated in his powerful bass voice that resembled that of an opera star. “Several small villages in the central highlands have suffered savage raids by the rabid hybrids. These beasts are young and strong. They are said to be reproducing themselves as fast as possible. The local mountain population is helpless to stop their attacks and depredations. My own forces are having difficulties finding and tracing the path of the several herds that exist. There is such fearless wildness in the animals that I have had to ask that helicopters be brought in from outside bases. But even that has proven inadequate in stopping these marauders.” The General paused to draw in more breath. “I now fear for the safety of our urban centers.”

Emek had a whirling sensation in his head. “What can be the solution?” he asked with obvious desperation. “How can this dangerous situation be limited and then eliminated?”

“I am going at once to Istanbul to make a report directly to the President. We will need help from Europe and possibly even America. This will soon grow beyond our capacity to deal with it.”

“What can we do?” Emek said, staring across his desk at head geneticist, Deger Metin. “How can we return to the time before we put together the yaban-bezoar? Tell me what is possible, if you can.”

Deger frowned with worry. “I can see only one way out for us. We have to make a natural enemy that can hunt down and kill the monster we have inadvertently created at the Institute.”

“Can that be done in time?”

“It must, I believe. There is really no alternative for us at the present time.”

The Director thought awhile a silence. “We must obtain the support and cooperation of Ilgun Toker. I will convince him we have to utilize genetics to solve this grave problem that threatens all of Turkey.”

As winter grew colder and harsher, hybrids appeared on the outskirts of the Izmir urban area. Several dozen human casualties occurred in villages where inhabitants unwisely attempted to catch or trap the invading yaban-bezoars.

It was one snowy January morning in the new year that Emer phoned the billionaire in Izmir with some news with promise in it.

“Deger has succeeded in creating a new hybrid of the bezoar, one with the Anatolian moose, the large, antlered geyigi. This great, heavy species, we hope, will be an effective competitor and fighter able to deal with the wildcat boar that we released out into the countryside. This may be what we have been looking to put together.”

“It must be allowed to reproduce and multiply as rapidly as possible,” excitedly asserted Ilgun. “All of Izmir stands in danger at the present moment. This new hybrid is our final hope. A larger, stronger one against the monster now going mad across our country.”

“It may be our last chance,” declared Director Emek Atan. “A war of hybrid against hybrid. That is what our world has come to.”

It took the Hayvan Institute five months to rid Anatolia of the menace it had unleashed on its population.

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