The Ottomans and Their Love for Animals

The Ottomans and Their Love for Animals, one of history’s most influential and enduring civilizations, left behind a remarkable legacy in many fields, from politics and architecture to art and culture. Among the lesser-known aspects of Ottoman society was their deep appreciation and love for animals.

The Ottomans and Their Love for Animals

Contrary to the stereotype of ruthless conquerors, the Ottomans displayed a profound respect for and empathy toward the animal kingdom. This article explores the Ottomans’ relationship with animals and the lasting impact of their compassion.

  1. Islamic Influence:The Ottomans were influenced by Islamic teachings, which emphasize kindness and compassion toward animals. The Quran and Hadith (the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad) contain numerous references to the ethical treatment of animals. The Ottomans, as devout Muslims, incorporated these principles into their daily lives.
  2. Animal Welfare Legislation:The Ottomans were among the first to introduce comprehensive animal welfare legislation. As early as the 15th century, they enacted laws that protected animals from abuse, cruelty, and neglect. Violators of these laws faced strict penalties, reflecting the Ottoman commitment to animal welfare.
  3. Sultans and Their Pets:Ottoman sultans were known for their love of animals and often kept a variety of pets, including cats, dogs, birds, and even exotic animals. These animals received royal care and attention, symbolizing the importance of treating all creatures with respect and dignity.
  4. Animal-Friendly Architecture:Ottoman architecture incorporated features designed to accommodate and provide for animals. Mosques, for example, often had shaded areas and water troughs for horses and other animals, recognizing the needs of both humans and animals.
  5. Fountain Tradition:The Ottomans were famous for their public fountains, which were not only sources of drinking water for humans but also provided water troughs for animals passing through the city. These fountains served as a testament to the Ottomans’ consideration for the well-being of animals.
  6. Use of Animals in Warfare:Even in times of war, the Ottomans displayed compassion for their animal companions. Ottoman armies were known for their use of war animals, such as camels and horses, which were well cared for and respected as vital partners in military campaigns.
  7. Zoological Gardens:The Ottomans established some of the earliest zoological gardens, known as “menageries,” where exotic animals from around the world were kept. These facilities allowed the Ottomans to learn more about these creatures and promote education about the animal kingdom.
  8. Hunting Regulations:While hunting was a popular pastime among the Ottoman elite, there were strict regulations in place to ensure that it was conducted ethically and sustainably. These regulations aimed to prevent overhunting and cruelty toward animals.


The Ottomans’ love for animals and their commitment to their welfare is a remarkable aspect of their history that deserves recognition. This compassionate approach to animals was deeply rooted in their Islamic faith and reflected in their laws, architecture, and daily lives.

The Ottoman Empire’s legacy of compassion toward animals serves as a timeless reminder that respecting and caring for the animal kingdom is not only a moral duty but also a testament to the depth of a civilization’s humanity.

Taking care of Animals in Istanbul

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