Support Shiller Pet Zoo / Animal Rescue!
Kvutzat Shiller is a kibbutz in central Israel, close to the town Rehovot. We have a small private pet zoo, which is run on a completely voluntary basis, with a modest allowance from the kibbutz. With the current trend towards urbanisation and privatisation, it is important to us to preserve a small part of our agricultural roots. We want our children to know what chickens eat, how eggs develop, what straw feels like and what a donkey sounds like!
As time passed, we became aware of another pressing need in our community: a solution for homeless animals. Unfortunately, because we are so close to several towns, people sometimes dump unwanted pets in our kibbutz. We regularly find stray cats, dogs and other animals wandering around. We've found rabbits, chickens, ducks, baby peacocks and hamsters - even our donkey was a stray! These animals are taken to the pet zoo and looked after there. Some of them I am able to keep, others I find homes for.
We have also started a neuter-and-release program for street cats, we feed them once a day and look after their health. The population of street cats in our kibbutz is now relatively stable, well-fed and healthy, which benefits everyone. When possible, kittens are socialized and put up for adoption. Even the wild animal population benefits! Children find wounded birds, sick hedgehogs and other small animals, and we help in whatever way we can.
Our pet zoo plays an important part in the education of our children. The younger children come to visit and enjoy with their family or daycare, while teenagers can do their volunteer hours for school here. Every spring, I do a hatching project in our preschool, so the children can see how eggs develop and hatch into chicks, which grow into chickens that eventually start laying their own eggs. One of the nurseries has their own pen with bunnies and guinea pigs, which the children take care of. Interaction with animals (supervised and guided by adults) is important for children. It teaches them empathy, responsibility and basic knowledge of the natural world around them.
The budget we get from the kibbutz allows me to house and feed the animals and get them basic health care. But it is limited. I sometimes have unexpected expenses, like when the pond pump broke down or when an animal needs intensive vet care. I can't accept male rabbits now, because we don't have the funds to neuter them and I want to avoid accidental litters. We had two young sheep for a few months, but I had to rehome them because there simply wasn't enough space for their antics. Our donkey Layla gets a lot of attention, walks and love, but she is sometimes lonely and she needs a friend.
Israel and the Palestinian territories are not always friendly places for animals. There are a lot of homeless pets and abandoned working animals. Not everyone gets their pets neutered, so people get many more kittens, puppies and bunnies than they can keep - which then get dumped or 'released in nature'. Abuse of horses and donkeys and loose big animals on the roads are a problem. We have found stray donkeys before (when we didn't have a pet zoo yet), and I expect it to happen again. When it does, I'd like to be prepared and able to care for them instead of having to turn them away because of lack of space or funding.
I love animals, I love my community and I want to make it better - for people and animals. With more funds, we can do more!