The For The Wildlife Animal Rescue and Dear Park Country Zoo have one of those symbiotic relationships found in nature. Their common purpose is helping to rehabilitate animals that have been injured, to reintroduce them into the wild when possible, and give a home to those they can’t.
Located within 10 meters of each other on a combined 3 acres of land on Moshav Elishama, between Hod Hasharon and Kfar Saba, neither is the kind of place people visit on Chol HaMoed. However, people in the area know that if they find an injured porcupine, jackal or crow, they bring it to Avihu Sherwood, 38, the animal caretaker at For the Wildlife. Avihu’s aim is to save any injured animal native to Israel and reintroduce it into the wild. (People do bring him non-native animals as well; there was a meerkat being treated for epilepsy.) The rescue treats 3,000-4,000 animals a year. Sometimes Avihu and his team – including five regular, devoted volunteers – are successful and sometimes they’re not.
Some of the animals that are saved, but can’t be reintroduced into the wild, are given to Deer Country Park, where Avihu takes care of them.
Deer Country Park was founded by Tzvi Adiv, age 60 (which means polite deer, hence the name of the park). There are no monkeys in the zoo, as they are being phased out of smaller zoos, so they can’t get a monkey license.
Adiv opened Deer Country Park three years ago after a terrible car accident left him with 60% disability. He had been in rehabilitation after the accident and said, “They rehabilitated me.” The they he was referring to was animals. He says the animals provide joy and calm. The former flower agriculturalist turned the land near his home into a very nice zoo with a playground, pony rides and an arts and crafts area. But, of course, the main draw is the animals, of which there are 140 types.
Adiv proudly showed me around. The zoo was closed to the general public that day as a group had rented it, but I got a personal tour and even a chance to pet some of the animals.
Each animal has a story. Two emus escaped from the Netanya zoo. One was killed, but the other was found and brought to Tzvi. Sometimes the larger zoos, like the Safari in Ramat Gan, or Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo, give Adiv their surplus animals. There’s also Sima the camel. She’s called Sima because her mother was confiscated when it was discovered she was running drugs between Egypt and Israel. She gave birth to Sima and Sima is a play on words for drugs in Hebrew (samim).
Adiv and his son, Ezra, built the cages, planted the trees and set up each animal’s habitat and Adiv has plans for an expanded aviary.
For Adiv and Sherwood, the work is obviously a labor of love. “This is my happiness,” says Adiv,” I thank God every moment.” While Adiv manages the zoo’s upkeep by charging admission, Sherwood relies on donations to keep For the Wildlife running. And he does a lot of the very physical work himself.
It is obvious that both Adiv and Sherwood are completely immersed in their work. It’s simply in their natures.
Contributions can be sent to: Deer Country Park, 64 Havradim Street, Moshav Elishama, Israel. For the Wildlife: https://www.paypal.me/forthewild or mail checks to Avihu Sherwood c/o Shlomo Sherwood, Moran 5, Pardess Chana, Israel 3710201