Islington graduate turns passion for animals into original business idea
12:00 31 May 2014
Like many recent graduates, Faik Aktulga’s struggle to get a paid job after university left him living at home and feeling despondent.
But rather than letting it get him down, the 22-year-old from Tufnell Park decided to set up his own business which draws on his number one passion – animals.
Mr Aktulga’s new business venture, Wild Fangs, sees him taking his collection of exotic pets into schools and to birthday parties to give educational and interactive talks to children.
Five months after having the original idea Aktulga has already turned his parents’ house in Beversbrook Road into “a bit of a zoo,” with the upstairs floor given over to a burgeoning collection of reptiles and insects.
At the moment the core collection includes two chinchillas, three terrapins, stick insects, a bearded dragon, a baby corn snake and some Madagascan cockroaches, and he’s soon to add a scorpion and a tarantula.
This may not sound too enticing to the more squeamish or arachnophobic but Aktulga insists that the cockroaches are “lovely in their own way,” while “tarantulas are also popular but more of an acquired taste”.
The star attraction, though, is definitely Zebadee, a seven-foot boa constrictor, which Aktulga admits is his favourite.
“I was feeling a bit disheartened and I took a step back and thought what do I actually want to do?,” Mr Akyulga said.
“I decided that I wanted to work with animals because that’s what I had experience in and I’d had lots of reptiles and different pets as a kid.
“My family’s from Cyprus so whenever we’d go back there I’d always be picking up lizards or interesting insects from outside and keeping them as pets.”
Most of the animals are rescue pets from people who could no longer manage to house them for various reasons.
Living with his parents has given Aktulga the space, security and freedom to take risks that have helped him take the plunge in starting his new enterprise.
“For now I can put all my money towards the business as I don’t have to pay rent to my parents,” he said.
“I do pay the electricity bills because all the animals use a lot with the heat lamps and special environments they need.
“I’ve already turned their house into a zoo, so it’s the least I can do.”
Mr Aktulga held his first event at Tufnell Park Tavern and it was a hit with local school children.
Around 40 people showed up to meet his pets and learn about what they like to eat and their natural habitats.
He also spends time volunteering at Hounslow City Farm which has helped him pick up presentation and husbandry expertise for his talks.
He said: “I kind of thought: why not just start now and learn from an early age? It will give me a lot of really good experience, whatever happens next.”
Schoolchildren are not the only ones benefiting from his decision to share his knowledge further afield.
“My dad’s fascinated by the animals and loves to learn about them. He’s always calling people in Cyprus with a fact that I’ve told him, which he pretends he found out himself.”
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