The dark side of Eilat's rabbit park

Noy Zilberman, who cares for the rabbits, says that people are abandoning bunnies to their deaths; Eilat municipality claims the park is safe and attracts many visitors and children

Asaf Kamar, Nir Cohen|
Eilat’s rabbit park is where locals come to abandon their furry little friends. Many of them, however, can’t survive on their own in an urban environment, and many of them die.
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  • Noy Zilberman, a local who tries to help the small rabbits, told Ynet about the park: “It’s something that exists for many years. It’s a site that became common for abandoning bunnies purchased by the residents. People reach a point where abandoning the animal is of no issue to them, and it became common here, unfortunately. Almost every Eilat resident knows about the rabbit park, as the place where bunnies are abandoned.”
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    הארנבונים יוצאים בשעות הלילה
    הארנבונים יוצאים בשעות הלילה
    Rabbits in the park
    (Photo: Lee-Yam Cohen)
    Zilberman said that 14 bunnies live in the park today, and face many dangers. “Most of them die, some due to abuse, some by cats or dogs,” she says.
    Zilberman, who says she once saw a rabbit being abandoned with her own eyes, wishes for this ugly phenomenon to stop. “The rabbit is a domesticated animal; it doesn’t belong in nature. It doesn’t have the same instincts rabbits have in the wild. They can’t manage in nature. They have burrows, but they have issues with heat. They can't handle temperatures above 25℃ (77℉), which is often their cause of death.”
    She sends a message to pet owners who are considering abandoning their rabbits. “In the end, if you decided to take a bunny home, throwing him there is not ideal,” Zilberman said. “You’re sending it to die. You aren’t sending it away to nature, where it knows how to care for itself, it doesn’t have the same instincts. There are places that take in and rescue bunnies and rehabilitate them, send them there if it doesn’t work out for you. Throwing them away is simply to have them killed.”
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    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    Zilberman also said that abandoned rabbits could spread diseases. “They abandon them there because they’re sick, and they aren’t willing to treat them,” she said. “Treatments are expensive from my experience. The diseases are often contagious, and spread between the rabbits. They aren’t harmful to humans but are so to rabbits, and it keeps spreading. I try and care for the ones I recognize as ill, but it could take some time until symptoms show, and by then the illness spreads, even to bunnies that have already recovered.”
    Zilberman also has criticism toward Eilat municipality. “I sent them countless emails, spoke to the chief veterinarian, wrote posts everywhere, but they refuse to provide answers,” she says.
    The Eilat municipality refused to comment on Zilberman’s claims. The municipality previously said that “an inspection with the Eilat municipality veterinarian, Dr. Oren Abarmovich, concludes that the issue is caused by people who purchased rabbits and later moved them to the park.
    "According to the veterinarian, the rabbits have adapted to the area well, therefore, there is no need to evacuate them. The park attracts visitors, parents and children, who enjoy the sights of rabbits free of cages.
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    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    “Our veterinary services inspectors visit the park occasionally. During the visits, 10-12 rabbits were spotted in good physical condition. There is food and water left for the rabbits by the residents, so almost no rabbit was found injured or ill. Two cases of ill rabbits were found and taken care of by veterinary services, and returned to the park when their condition improved.
    "Everyone is invited to enjoy the sight of happy rabbits. If any resident spots an ill rabbit, they can report the issue to the municipality, and the rabbit will be given proper treatment.”
    The Eilat municipality later added that “the Eilat municipality veterinarian, Dr. Oren Abarmovich, visited the park this week and the situation is the opposite of the claims raised. The park has 20 rabbits, and when a call about a sick rabbit was received, it was taken for treatment.
    As for vaccination, there's no obligation under the law to vaccinate rabbits. Options to castrate the rabbits are being considered in order to control their population. Any resident who encounters any unusual situation in the park may notify the municipality which will act accordingly.”
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