Korkmazer's love for strays is so deep that he even named his store, Yeşim Meat Gallery, after the first ever stray animal he fed from his counter.
Ikram Korkmazer has a very important policy at his butcher's shop: no stray animal that comes to his doorstep will be denied meat scraps. The 51-year-old's indiscriminate love for dogs and cats has gained him a substantial fan following online where he shares glimpses of the furry customers who frequent his store.
According to The Epoch Times, Korkmazer's love for strays is so deep that he even named his store, Yeşim Meat Gallery, after the first ever stray animal he fed from his counter. The butcher still fondly remembers Yeşim the cat, who holds a special place in his heart for motivating him to start this heartwarming tradition.
"I was feeding her," he said of the feline, Yeşim. "When she gave birth to a kitten, she started bringing it to my workplace—they came together. She would stand on two legs, look at the meat on the counter, and ask for meat. She started to come to ask for food five or six times a day, standing on two legs. She wanted mostly spleen, heart, kidney and loved beef." Even after Yeşim the cat got sick and died, her kitten continued to visit the store for years in pursuit of the treats she'd enjoyed since birth.
Soon, other street cats caught on and started coming to Yeşim Meat Gallery looking for some tasty meat scraps. Although many in his position would've turned them away, Korkmazer obliged in memory of his deceased furry friend.
Cats aren't the only strays to benefit from the big heart of Korkmazer, who has 41 years of experience in the business. The generous butcher also offers lamb, spleen, heart, kidney and bones to the stray dogs that pass by his shop. "There would be 8 to 10 dogs, and 7 to 8 cats a day," Korkmazer said of how it used to be when he first started feeding strays, "but only Yeşim the cat would come in."
The butcher, who grew up in the Turgutlu district of Turkey's Manisa province, went viral on social media platforms after he started filming and posting videos of the animals' hungry visits to his store. He now has more than 65,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 530,000 on TikTok.
Korkmazer revealed that his fame has made him the target of criticism from some who don't think he should be taking care of stray animals. However, he firmly believes in his mission and holds on to his motto that love will overcome. Today, his co-workers, family members and even some customers enthusiastically take part in feeding the stray animals that approach the butcher shop.
"I have instilled the love for animals in this world, and it makes me proud to introduce Turkey as an animal-loving country," said Korkmazer, who has three sons and two grandchildren. "I have 4 billion people watching my videos, and they are still watching." Here are some more heartwarming videos of the most important customers at Korkmazer's shop: