Monday, 11 July 2005


As many people who regularly visit the island or this column know, there exists a Wildlife Hospital on the island. Do not think by wildlife we mean elephants or zebras, those animals are not to be found here, even when you go on safari, the most popular excursion of Lesvos.

The biggest species of wild animals on Lesvos are the foxes who drive the farmers to desperation by attacking their innocent lambs. But also on Lesvos, foxes are protected animals. You have a lot of birds ranging from pink flamingos, some pelicans, big birds of prey, the common or garden ones to minuscule owls. And then you have small game like tortoises, field mice and squirrels.

The Dutch couple Joris and Ineke Peeters-Lenglet have created this centre. For some years now they have run this first-aid and reception- for-animals-center in Agia Paraskevi. They were given the central park there to transform it into a small zoological garden, but since the last elections of 1.5 years ago and hundreds of man hours to build cages and footpaths, the new mayor decided to claim back the park because he said it was a fire risk. Now the park is empty again, no regular visitors anymore and they think the fire risk is over...

Joris and Ineke managed to get their neighbouring building in order to house the homeless animals. Again they had to build cages and cages and felt just like Hercules. What happens in the Wildlife Hospital and what animals are brought in there, you can read best on their website. Joris writes monthly reports on their daily life and a medical diary. Do not be afraid that it will be too boring to read. In spite of the hard fight against the cruelty to animals and the hard work Joris has a remarkable humour in describing all the sad things they encounter.

The Animal of the Month for Athens was a dolphin who got lost in the Harbour of Piraeus. For the first time in history the port stopped all traffic on the water for one hour in order that people could lead the dolphin out to open sea.

The Animal of the Month on Lesvos was the Caretta Caretta, a turtle found by a fisherman from Panagiouda (near Mytilini) in open sea. It is not such a big event finding a turtle in the sea, when you are lucky you even see dolphins dancing around the waves. What the fisherman found was a Caretta Caretta who kept on swimming in circles. And unlike cats who can endlessly chase their tails, for a turtle it is no normal behaviour. So the fisherman called the Wildlife Hospital, but they only own an old ambulance which is not exactly seaworthy. They managed to get the coastguard to pick up the animal. I leave the rest of the story to Joris. You can read what happened with the Caretta Caretta on their website in the report on the month of June 2005:

The only thing I will add is that this sea creature of over 100 kilos was that big that they had to remove the door of their consulting room in order to examine the turtle.

Dogs and cats officially do not belong to wild animals, although you find a lot of cats and dogs who are left on their own and so are half wild because they have to survive in nature. These animals also are brought in big numbers to the Wildlife Hospital, mostly in awfully poor condition. There are Greeks who consider these animals as throw- away-pets. I will not describe the atrocities Joris and Ineke see, just read their website.

Since last winter we have a doggy named Rocky. It is half Poodle and half Pekingese. Friends who know us will have a big laugh about this: what will we be doing with such a lap-monster. But Rocky has grown into a very lovely ball of black wool. He could do with an under brace but his black sweet eyes immediately make you fall in love with him. His hair growth although is reason to worry because most of the times Rocky is a 'chorta'-dog, which means that he drags fields of grass with him. Everywhere he has those mean sharp grass tops on him, a certain crop that grows abundantly this summer, because also Ineke and Joris have plenty of patients with the same complaints.

These thorns not only stick into the hair but settle as well in the folds, ears, eyes and nose, which creates inflammations. In May we had to take Rocky to a vet in Kaloni because he had ear pain. He was immediately sedated with drugs and I was taken aback when the vet tore complete grasses out of his ear. Now the poor doggy is somewhat anti-chorta, but still we have to grass-control him and make sure that he has no inflammations.

It drives me crazy because each day again he is full of it. And those nasty things not only settle on the dog but climb into your clothes as if they were real vermin. Before you know you are on a consulting table, stuffed full of drugs. So you see, meeting a big turtle at sea is not so dangerous as meeting such a stupid little grass top.

Copyright © Smitaki 2005

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