In a flap

Mayor uses municipal crane to rescue his fugitive parrot

Kiryat Shmona’s Avichai Stern is hoisted to the treetop to retrieve escapee Arthur; opposition members question use of city resource on Shabbat; mayor says he’ll pay

Screen capture from video of Kiryat Shmona Mayor Avi Stern rescuing his parrot, Arthur, with a crane, December 17, 2022. (Walla. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of Kiryat Shmona Mayor Avi Stern rescuing his parrot, Arthur, with a crane, December 17, 2022. (Walla. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Kiryat Shmona Mayor Avichai Stern called in a municipal crane to rescue his parrot from a tree on Saturday, riding the platform high into the branches to bring the fugitive bird back to the ground.

The operation left opposition council members in a flap over the use of municipal resources on Shabbat, the day of rest, as well as over the cost of the operation.

Arthur, a blue and yellow parrot, made his bid for freedom on Friday when he flew out of the Stern family home, the Walla website reported.

Family, friends, and local residents joined the search and the bird was spotted in a tree, but then disappeared before he could be captured.

On Saturday, Arthur showed up again, this time in the high branches of a cypress tree.

Stern called in a municipal crane, which required two workers — one to operate the crane, and another to drive the truck that brought it to the scene.

Stern, who reportedly has no qualification to use a crane and did not appear to be wearing any safety equipment, was hoisted aloft and was able to coax Arthur into his arms.

Opposition council member Eli Zafrani slammed Stern for using municipal equipment for his own personal benefit and asking the two men to work on Shabbat. Municipal work is usually only permitted on the Sabbath in emergency situations.

“I am shocked that a mayor harassed municipal employees in the middle of the Sabbath and took out a crane at the municipality’s expense, all to rescue his pet,” Zafrani said according to the report. “This is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

He demanded that Stern cover the cost of the work and threatened to seek legal action if the mayor did not pay up.

A statement on behalf of Stern said that he intended to pay for the use of the crane, but also pointed out that the municipality has in the past rescued stranded pets.

“The Kiryat Shmona municipality’s policy when it comes to rescuing animals is to act to rescue them and save their lives,” the statement said. “This is what we have done in recent years in quite a few cases that have been handled following inquiries received at our municipal hotline, including on Shabbat and [religious] holidays, and this is how we will continue to act.”

The statement added that in past cases, residents were not expected to cover the cost of the rescue.

“It should be noted that the mayor himself climbed the ladder to rescue the parrot and he thanks hundreds of the city’s residents who rallied and helped in the search for the beloved and precious parrot,” it said.

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