Disabled animals given new lease of life at Israeli sanctuary

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Meital Ben Ari, a co-founder of “Freedom Farm” pats Gary, a sheep with leg braces, at the farm which serves as a refuge for mostly disabled animals. Reuters

MOSHAV OLESH (Reuters) – Miri, a three-legged donkey, Gary, a sheep with leg braces, and Omer, a blind goat, munch on some hay at Israel’s only animal rescue and educational sanctuary.

Founded by animal rights activists Adit Romano, a 52-year-old former business executive, and Meital Ben Ari, 38, who used to work in tech, Freedom Farm serves as a refuge for mostly disabled animals and as an educational centre for visitors.

“If you want people to open their hearts towards these animals, we have to bring them close,” said Ms Romano, stroking two pigs named Yossi and Omri.

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Most of the nearly 240 animals at the facility were raised for slaughter. Some were donated by farmers who chose to save them. Others, like Miri, who was found lying in a ditch with a broken leg, were abandoned. After Miri’s rescue, her leg was amputated.

Ms Ben Ari said children with special needs particularly enjoy tours of the farm and its 5 acres (2 hectares) of green pastures, stables and a barn in Moshav Olesh, an agricultural community in central Israel.

On a visit with her 84-year-old father, Shira Breuer, 56, said: “I’m worried about the future of humanity and this place sounds like a place of hope.”

The farm’s most recent addition is Nir, a five-month-old cow fitted with a prosthetic leg to replace one that was broken and then amputated.

Freedom Farm raised money for the artificial limb and medical care through an internet crowd funding campaign.

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It costs about $1 million a year to run the farm, which relies on contributions and volunteer workers from Israel and abroad, including musicians – who come and play for the animals.

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