On a secluded sparsely vegetated plateau in the broad valley of Kamares sits the new home of the Aegean Wildlife Hospital. Surrounded by distant rugged hills and wildflowers, this quiet 12.5 strema plot is an ideal site to accommodate injured or ill animals as they are treated and healing as well as many permanent residents. Donated to the hospital two years ago by the Loggovarda Monastery, the land was originally vacant with one dilapidated building. Using the remnants of this as a skeleton, hospital director Marios Fournaris and his volunteer crew began building literally from the ground up. With the land in place, the construction of a new hospital was planned, although the means for reaching that goal were coming intermittently and the project looked years down the line. With some fortuitous funds coming through and hard-working volunteers, what looked as though it would take many years to finish is now nearly complete in less than two. Currently the facility at Kamares contains twenty new aviaries and a building which encompasses a contemporary treatment room, a large Environmental Education Hall, a storeroom and living quarters for volunteers. The aviaries are housing birds separated into like species which, compliant with the mission of the hospital, are released once treated and recovered. Additionally there are huge open areas for invalid (unreleasable due to permanent injury) birds; one for sea birds, one for fresh water birds and one for birds of prey. There is an observation hide for the water birds which will have operative visiting hours once the new site is permanently open.
Noteworthy are the facts that this is the first purpose-built wildlife hospital in all of Greece (meaning it has been designed and built specifically as a wildlife hospital) and the largest construction in Europe for the rehabilitation of birds.
Assistance from locals within the building profession who offered advice, materials and labor has proved invaluable. Architects, plumbers, electricians, engineers, contractors and innumerable others have all contributed either time, materials or ideas to the completion of the new facility. Without their help, and the help of volunteers from around the world, the costs of construction would have been insurmountable for the hospital which subsists by donation.
The significant donation from council member Vazeos Petropoulos has made it possible for the completion of the Environmental Education hall. This will stand as a great and lasting asset to the community, and especially the children, of Paros and Greece providing integral information about care and respect for the natural world and its inhabitants.
It is inspiring to see that with immense persistence and dedication Mario, along with the generous help of volunteers both from Paros and globally, has managed to successfully realize his vision.
Currently the wildlife hospital is seeking donations in good working condition for the new facility. They would be very grateful to receive the following:
1 large and 1 small refrigerater
1 deep freeze
1 washing machine
Furniture for volunteer housing -
beds, bedding, couches, chairs etc.
Springtime releases began Mid-March and will last through May. The releases are timed to free fully recovered birds after the hunting season or to coincide with migratory patterns. Beginning in the Athens area the releases will take place all over Greece including Thessaloniki, Lake Prespa, Corfu, Chios, Lefkada, Patras, Iraklion, Naxos, Rhodes. The releases involve the forestry office and always a local class or school, they are fairly high-profile events and often covered on the news.
There is something stirring and beautifully profound in witnessing a wild creature of flight that has been in captivity set free. Tossed into the air it stretches and beats its wings, quickly regaining agility and strength and soaring easily into the sky. As close to true flying as we may ever be. Pure joy and freedom.
Note: A vast majority of injuries to birds are shooting injuries. If you notice someone shooting illegally (out of season) or at a species which it is not permissable to shoot; please inform the hunters. If they are uncooperative, phone the police.
Look out for posters about the Aegean Wildlife Hospital Open Day either at the end of May or beginning of June.
IF YOU FIND AN INJURED WILD MAMMAL OR BIRD:
* Immobilise it by gently throwing a large cloth over it;
* Find an adequately sized cardboard box or animal carrier, making sure there are air holes in the side;
* Keep the animal away from your face, place it in the box, and close it securely;
* Place the box in a warm, quiet, dark and safe place (never leave outside the house, as injured animals have a unique ability to escape); and
* Call the Hospital immediately to receive instructions so that the animal can receive proper treatment as quickly as possible.