After a few weeks' running in, the new premises for the wild animal hospital was officially inaugurated on Thursday under the auspices of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Ramat Gan Safari. Israel's President Shimon Peres and Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan were present at the ceremonial opening.
The hospital treats dozens of wild animals each day, brought in from around the country by concerned citizens and the Authority's rangers. The thousands treated each year include songbirds, birds of prey and mammals of all sizes, all with the aim of returning them to the wild.
Peres said he had come to support the work of saving animals.
"Imagine a childhood with only plastic toys," he said during his speech. "Nobody has the authority to steal our children's childhood from them. When we allow wild animals to live, we are granting ourselves life too, and our children, and this should not be undervalued."
"We must give wild animals the same health resources that we grant ourselves," Peres added. "This is the right thing to do. A world without animals and birds is a mistake of the greatest magnitude."
Erden: Moral obligation
Erdan, whose ministry granted a budget of over NIS 1 million ($260,000) to building the premises last summer, promised to grant further funds for an educational auditorium. This would enable the wider public to see the hospital's work and improve the conditions for animals.
"We consider protecting animals to be of great importance, including wild animals," Erdan said. "Animals, like the plants and soil, are part of humankind's natural surroundings. We, as a society, have a moral obligation to care for animals, because they do not threaten us – we threaten them.
"Economic development over open spaces is reducing animals' habitats, and is a tangible threat to them. We must compensate them, concern ourselves about their welfare, rehabilitate them and return them to the wild."
After removing the covering from the hospital's sign, the president, environmental protection minister, Ramat Gan mayor and the hospital director released young falcons back into the wild.
The dignitaries also toured the premises and met hospital veterinaries and staff who were caring for an eagle that seemed to have been electrocuted by a high-tension wire in Nazareth and had been in the hospital for a few weeks already.
The new, spacious building enables systematic care of a large number of animals and includes an operating room, imaging instruments, and laboratory. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority noted that in addition to caring for the animals, efforts were made to understand the cause of the problem in order to prevent reoccurrences.