Peres to launch new wildlife facility

President to recognize Israel's biodiversity at inauguration.

June 16, 2010 23:54
3 minute read.
cute animals at the wildlife hospital at the safar

cute animals 311. (photo credit: safari)

Israel’s only wildlife hospital is scheduled to initiate a new phase of expansion today at a ceremony inaugurating a brand-new facility under the auspices of President Shimon Peres.

The Israeli Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, located at the Ramat Gan Safari outside Tel Aviv, will cross the street to a new building that could double their service capacity, according to Dr. Rona Nadler, a veterinarian at the hospital.

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At the ceremony, Peres and Gilad Erdan, the minister of environmental protection, will represent the nation’s renewed emphasis on protecting its oft-overlooked extensive collection of wildlife.

“Israel can be very proud of what there is here in conservation and wildlife protection,” said Ohad Hazofe, an ecologist with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (NPA), who has been heavily involved with the hospital.

He explained that Israel has some of the strongest wildlife protection legislation in the world. The expansion of the hospital – which focuses on animal monitoring and rehabilitation as well as public education – will support a more active role toward the goal to protect Israel’s wildlife.

“Now we have to improve implementation and public awareness,” he said.

The hospital was founded in 2005 as part of a joint venture between the Safari– officially known as the Zoological Center of Tel Aviv- Ramat Gan – and the government- run NPA.

Nadler said the hospital has since led the way in protecting a national wildlife that has long been ignored. While cheetahs had disappeared from southern Israel by the 1950s, Nadler noted that Israel is uniquely located on the migratory path of a wide variety of birds.

Since the hospital’s inception, the number of “patients” it serves annually has increased from 300 to over 2,000 birds, reptiles, mammals and other wildlife.

Hospital employees described the conditions of the original building as antiquated, with Hazofe labeling the hospital’s early years “the desert generation.” He compared the new phase to the Israelites coming out of the desert.

The hospital will be moving into a building, said Hazofe, “that is really state of the art, the cutting edge in wildlife rehabilitation.”

The new facility will have separate treatment and surgery rooms, in addition to a research laboratory and an Xray imagining facility. The Ministry of Environmental Protection covered the NIS 1.2 million building costs.

Nadler explained that the cramped confines of the old facility impaired animals’ recovery by imposing unnecessarily high stress levels on them.

“It used to be a lot of chaos in a very small place,” said Nadler, who has moved into the new facility, along with the rest of the staff, over the last few months. “It wasn’t good for the staff, and mostly, it wasn’t good for the animals.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection will fund the second phase of expansion, replacing the old building with a new structure that will serve as a shelter for the animals also include an auditorium for student education.

Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar will be among the dignitaries scheduled to attend the Thursday afternoon inauguration ceremony.

The attendance of top authority figures will help in the hospital’s cause: to raise national awareness of Israel’s wildlife, Nadler said.

“Once people see that there is awareness within the highest echelon, they’ll understand the utmost importance” of wildlife preservation, she said.

“This is a festive day for wildlife,” said Eli Amitai, head of the NPA, adding: “It is our moral obligation to deal with the damage done to it.”

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