Vets Remove 1.5 Kilos of Plastic Bags From Ibex’s Stomach

A shopper holding a plastic bag. (Flash90)

In a testimony to the proliferation of plastic bags – and a justification for the plastic bag law, according to its supporters – an Israeli veterinary hospital several weeks ago operated on a wild ibex that was found to have 1.5 kilos of plastic bags in its stomach.

The ibex was taken to the hospital after it got stuck on a fence and broke its leg when it tried to run away from hikers in Mitzpeh Rimon in southern Israel. The ibex was taken to the hospital by Parks Authority officials for surgery to repair its leg. The surgery was successful, but it appeared to the vets that the animal was still suffering.

X-rays showed that the animal’s stomach was jammed with foreign objects, which turned out to be plastic bags. In surgery last week, doctors opened the ibex’s stomach and removed the bags – 1.5 kilos worth, which apparently were consumed by the animal over many years. The bags were mostly plastic, but also included nylon and cloth bags. Officials said that ibexes generally live in the wild, but forage near human encampments – and the fact that this ibex had managed to consume so many bags just highlighted the damage that plastic bags were doing to the environment, and why the plastic bag law was needed.

Under the law, shoppers who ask for plastic bags when packing groceries have to pay for that privilege. The law ends the practice of stores giving out plastic bags for free; they now cost consumers 10 agurot per plastic bag. The bill is designed to encourage shoppers to bring their own baskets and bags while shopping. The money collected by supermarkets for the bags will be transferred to a special fund that will be used to clean up the environment. According to environmental experts, the average Israeli shopper uses 10 plastic bags per supermarket shopping trip.