Animal ER

Photographs by Uriel Sinai


The baby hedgehog, his eyes still closed but his spikes fully out, arrived with a personal letter; "We found him near our house”, it said, “He was under some stairs, surrounded by our cats and dogs. We don’t know where his mother is. He didn’t eat for a whole day! Please take care of him and we would be happy to return him to nature”.

Ariela Rosenzwig, the Israeli veterinarian who read the letter out loud in the Wildlife Hospital in Ramat Gan, picked up the tiny creature. She carefully examined it and put it in her shirt pocket, for warmth. "His leg is broken", she said, “but that's the least of his problems. He should be in a cave with his mother, his chances are low”.

Around her, various animals that were brought in to the only wildlife hospital in Israel were waiting their turn, all of them in cardboard boxes. There was a young falcon with wing problems; A Jackdaw chick which was screaming his lungs out; On the operating table: a Steppe Eagle which has been shot by an arrow somewhere in Africa, flew all the way to Israel and was treated after the successful removal operation. An Owl was awaiting a clean-up and a small seagull was also in line for some treatment.

The hospital treats around 2,000 animals annually, and one day this spring had around 170 of them in hospitalization. “If its wild we accept it, doesn’t matter if it’s a snake or a weasel, a deer or a hyena”, said Ronni, who manages the day to day operations in the hospital. In reality, one can even see crows and pigeons being taken care of, loyal to the essence of the place - saving animals.

“Our main aim is to return wild animals to nature. To preserve species, especially in such a sensitive area like Israel”, she added. “The overall majority of animals we receive and help are here because of human activity – getting hit by cars, electrocuted, tangled in traps”.

Going through the hospitalization ward, the variety of Israeli wildlife can be seen, often sharing a cage. “We are a big migratory route here in Israel, so we have mostly birds in our care”, said Nilly, another veterinarian. In the bird nursery, volunteers were feeding worms to dozens of different chicks, all crying for attention together. “I think she is missing some B12”, mentioned Tina, a volunteer from Germany, while messaging and feeding a young Swift.