Gene pool research for ponies of Ayvacık .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Turks have begun to appreciate the value of the ponies that inhabit the north Aegean area of Ayvacık, but only after locals in Greece started expressing an interest in buying them first.

This interest has even triggered scientific research of this species in Turkey.

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, or TÜBİTAK, has started a gene pool research of Ayvacık ponies for their protection and to prevent them from being transported out of the country, after officials of neighboring Greek island asked to buy the animals. According to a report by the Anatolian News Agency, Stephanos Apostolou, mayor of Mandamados on the Greek island of Lesbos visited Ayvacık back in 2007, within the framework of a festival, and told Ünal Şahin, mayor of Ayvacık, that he would like to buy some Ayvacık ponies to take back to the Greece with him.

As this request came among other complaints from locals of people from Greece seeking ponies, research into the horses by a team at TÜBİTAK’s center in the Marmara region, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, has begun into the preservation of the horses.

Mayor Şahin told the Anatolian News Agency that as the ponies of Lesbos Island had lost their characteristics and had grown in size, Apostolou wanted to buy the smaller horses of Ayvacık. Şahin said they did not look fondly on the request and started work on preserving the species. "Apparently everyone has a cart with these horses. It seems it’s the fashion among the rich residents of Lesbos, "said Şahin, adding: "They wanted our horses to use for tourism purposes. That is why we did not want to give them" said the mayor.

Şahin also said that although the climate conditions and natural elements of Ayvacık and Lesbos were practically the same due to the only 5.5 miles distance between them, these kinds of horses were not indigenous to Lesbos.

Şahin told the Anatolian News Agency that the Ayvacık ponies had been living in the area for a very long time and were used by the villagers for purposes of agriculture and transportation.