Abandoned Building Becomes Urban Bat Habitat in Israel

Sometimes the urban environment is an ideal place for wild animals. Here’s an example: In 2006, Petach Tikva’s two hospitals merged to form the Rabin Medical Center. Since then, several new buildings have appeared at the Beilinson campus while the Hasharon campus, a few kilometers away, lies stagnating.

The health ministry originally planned to shut down Hasharon completely, but workers and residents protested and prevented the closure. Large departments in Hasharon, such as maternity, closed or moved to Beilinson but others, including orthopedics and internal medicine, exist in both places. Hasharon is viewed as a friendly, community-based hospital while Beilinson has become a large medical center with numerous specialties.

Nothing illustrates the stagnation of Hasharon more than the building pictured above. I’m not sure whether it was meant for a clinic or offices, or even parking, but when the merger took place someone scrapped the project. This was bad news for the neighborhood’s elderly and sick. Yet all was not lost–this abandoned building on a huge plot of valuable, government-owned property in the middle of a residential neighborhood–turned out to be the perfect habitat for bats.

Walking by at twilight one can hear hundreds of shrieking bats and even view them flying back and forth. Some residents avoid the place, while others are fascinated. Recently my husband has seen bats swooping over the street late at night. When he called the city’s hotline, he was told that they don’t deal with bats.

Petach Tikva has invested large funds in beautifying the city. Let’s hope that it will put pressure on the health ministry to remove this eyesore. Maybe the “bat cave” can be merged with the local zoo.

Read more about Petach Tikva’s urban design at Urban Design: The Traffic Circle as a Space for Art.
Read Hannah Katsman’s Breastfeeding Series on Green Prophet.
Hannah’s own blog, including pictures of Bnei Brak’s urban goats, can be found at at A Mother in Israel (new location).

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