Man turns his living room into a wildlife sanctuary

Avihu Sherwood tends to nearly 3,500 animals each year.

Most guys wake up, walk into the kitchen and pour themselves a cup of coffee. Not Avihu Sherwood. He instead walks into his living room and feeds the ferrets. And the hedgehogs. And the turtles. And the chipmunks. And the crows. And don't forget about Hezi the porcupine. Although Hezi doesn't need Sherwood's help getting breakfast. The porcupine has actually learned how to open the fridge and grab the porcupine food from the bottom shelf.

This is just a typical day for the 39-year-old Israeli who has turned his home north of Tel Aviv into the For the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary. He rescues and rehabilitates animals who show up at his door either injured or sick. There's a parrot with a pox virus, a hedgehog with scabies and a meerkat that's malnourished and has pneumonia.

His living room is now a medical clinic. His guest room is a surgery operating theater.

There's a bird hospitalization area, and another room holds the incubator for new chicks – more than 400 at one time. There's a stork who hangs out in the bathroom. Really, the only part of his home that remains is his bedroom – where he sleeps with his dog. A fox sometimes joins them. His girlfriend refuses to spend the night.

Sherwood has loved animals his entire life. By the age of 6, while in kindergarten, he had already set up a small petting zoo. By the age of 14, he was studying zoology. He's traveled to zoos and jungles all across the globe. In a profile about him titled "It's Vetting Hot in Here," MSN dubbed him the "hunky animal rescuer." Due to his last name, he's been called the "Robin Hood of Israel's wildlife."

He has round-the-clock volunteers who help him tend to the ever-growing menagerie. He treats about 3,500 animals each year – 300 of them are just hedgehogs. At any given time, he's taking care of about 50 animals, and works in conjunction with the nearby Deer Country Park zoo. Families stop by on the weekend to visit the animals.

Sherwood is just the latest Israeli to draw international attention to their work with wildlife. There's Nora Lifschitz, who turned her home into a shelter for bats. There's Yaron Schmid, a veterinarian-turned-wildlife photographer who is bringing awareness to endangered animals through his pictures. Not to mention Ofir Drori, who has made it his life's mission to stop Africa's worst wildlife traffickers.

As for Sherwood's pride and joy, Hezi the porcupine? Despite the animal's acrobatic acumen in the kitchen at the refrigerator door, he's not doing great. Hezi has problems with his gait, and Sherwood is determined to fix it. The porcupine has undergone a procedure to extract fluid from his spine and then got a CT scan at a nearby hospital.

"He's my child," Sherwood told an Israeli TV station. "I would invest everything I have to save Hezi."


Top video courtesy of the State of Israel YouTube channel.


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Related Topics: Animals

Man turns his living room into a wildlife sanctuary
Dubbed 'the hunky animal rescuer,' Avihu Sherwood tends to a menagerie of mammals without leaving his house.