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Tisch Family Zoo in Jerusalem - The Biblical Zoo

Discussion in 'Israel' started by markun, 29 Jul 2008.

  1. markun

    markun Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    London & Jerusalem
    The zoo moved to its present site in 1994, although it originally housed animals mentioned in the Bible it has branched out to include many more. However animals of the Bible and the land of Israel are still a speciality and Biblical quotes appear on the signage of these animals' enclosures.

    The zoo is in a boomerang shaped valley on the outskirts of Jerusalem and has a good English language website with a useful map.
    Starting at the main entrance the impression is of a lush, green densely planted zoo. There is a lake with flamingos, pelicans and wildfowl as well as two standard islands for siamang gibbons and black handed spider monkeys.

    Walking to the right, you go up-hill. A small animal house is here with reptiles, many rodents found in the Israeli desert and other small mammals including golden lion tamarin and agouti in a mixed enclosure, pygmy marmosets in an enclosure which seems to have a mock Asian temple theme and some amphibians and invertebrates. The enclosures are all standard glass fronted box type enclosures. The endangered Negev tortoise is also here.

    Outside are black lemurs in a tented net style enclosure.

    Further up the hill are penguins in a roofed over enclosure with a murky pool with underwater viewing and rocky backdrop, not very exciting in design but like many of the enclosures the visitors are protected from the heat by a kind of arcade in front of the enclosure screening it and the visitors off from the heat.

    Similarly, bamboo screens shelter you and the parrots ( I can remember corellas, military macaws, hyacinthine macaws and eclectus parrots) from the sun in a number of aviaries just up the hill. There are also turacos and tarictic hornbills.


    In the top corner is a standard but attractive enclosure for red pandas who probably prefer the Jerusalem winter when it occasionally snows.

    Giant aldabra tortoises have a paddock near here and there is also a large walk through aviary with scarlet ibis, waldrop ibis, egrets, crowned cranes and various ducks. The sides of the aviary are covered in plants and it's built into the hillside so you can only see it from inside.

    The zoo is on two levels, you're now on the top level higher up the valley. All the enclosures I'm about to describe are along a path which runs along this level, you can see it on the map above.

    A grotto here houses Syrian brown bears. It seems a shame that there enclosure isn't expanded to include some of the wooded land around it - a good thing about the zoo is that animals aren't crammed into every available space so there is lots of room for local birds and wildlife as well as lots of vegetation.

    The enclosure isn't enormous and is fairly traditional but I didn't see any stereotypical behaviour. The 4 bears were active and splashing about in a deep moat which gave them the chance to submerge completely.

    Next are Asian lions in a moated enclosure built into the hill side. Not enormous but nicely planted with lots of shade. You can also view from the side through glass as well as the front. Here and in many other parts of the zoo are mist sprinklers.

    An eagle owl aviary is built into the cliff across from the lions and you can enter into a kind of wooden balcony in the enclosure. I think it could have been bigger though.

    Next to it are howler monkeys in an enclosure that seemed quite exposed with not much shade.

    Next, on the same side as the lions are Persian leopard and serval enclosures, glass fronted rocky enclosures, not massive and viewers are sheltered by screens in front of the enclosure's viewing area.

    Next mandrills and a bit further on, chimpanzees. Similar in design to the lion enclosure, moated with glass viewing to one side with natural trees (no access due to hot wires) and wooden branches. There are also streams running through the enclosures and mist spray.

    Then a large bird of prey aviary with many species all together including white tailed sea eagle (on the signage but I didn't see it), griffon vulture, long legged and Eurasian buzzards, black kite and short toed eagle. You can walk into the aviary or view from outside and the birds seemed quite active with an eagle flying about.

    Next is a tropical house, the only one I've ever been in which is cooler inside than out. It's very densely planted and I couldn't see many birds. A walkway goes right up to the top where there are armadillos in a sandy enclosure and mouse deer living on terraces on the cliff. Further down is a waterfall and pool with Siamese crocodiles (Nile crocodiles are in the small animal house as are other reptiles) and turtles.

    The next enclosures further along are for Asian elephants, two smallish sandy enclosures for, I think 4 elephants including a 3 year old male conceived through artificial insemination and another immature male. The keepers have direct free contact and later on I noticed a kind of demonstration for the public but I was running out of time so couldn't watch. This is definitely an area where the animals will need more space. The pool is quite big though, with water in both enclosures and the elephants could submerge completely.

    Next are large paddocks, one side rocky the other flat and sandy with a raised wooden walkway with lookout points. The rocky part with local trees is the Biblical reserve with Persian fallow deer, Scimitar horned oryx, Arabian gazelles, Nubian ibex, mouflon (I think) and Arabian oryx in a separate paddock. The flatter, sandier side has a large lake and houses white rhino, Angolan giraffes, ostrich, zebras, marabou storks (2, I think) and addax. It's not bad but felt a bit hot and wind-swept so I was feeling a bit tired by this point. At the end of the walkway is a large wooden Noah's Ark with an information centre and cafe.
    The one thing which spoils this area are the huge electricity pylons which cross this end of the zoo. Going back you pass bison and hippo in the ugliest enclosures in the zoo, viewed from quite high above they are dusty, gravel lots with a concrete pond in the hippo enclosure, very unattractive.

    From here on you are going into the greener part of the zoo, there is an area called underground world with prairie marmots and meerkats in enclosures featuring tunnels so you can climb under and see them at ground level. In between is a kind of nocturnal house with more rodents, naked mole rats, insects and cave fish.

    A children's zoo is here and next to the hippo enclosure is a South American paddock which seems very middle eastern, some of these animals I'm sure would be better off in the lusher part of the zoo. In a very dry paddock are mara, capybara, tapir (All the tapirs were deep in a pond sheltered by trees) and alpacca.

    Next to this is a greener area for Australian animals, as you enter it seems quite exciting with a gateway saying something like 'Welcome to Australian dreaming' with Australian and Aboriginal flags, aboriginal artwork, screens with films about Australia and some reptiles in glass fronted enclosures. But it's a bit anti-climactic, you enter a building with a walk through hall with crowned pigeons, frogmouths and fruitbats, then there is a large aviary which was empty and unlabeled [ Note: I just saw some pictures on the zoo website and I think this housed/houses keas] although there were some signs about New Zealand wildlife [makes sense now]. Then along a path to a green paddock with a rocky waterfall in a corner for red necked wallabies and a walk through paddock with grey kangaroos. There are koalas and other Australian animals in a park in northern Israel, I would get some of these here and turn the south American paddock into an Australian desert area. Eucalyptus trees can be seen all over Jerusalem, some here would make it feel more Australian.

    There is a walk through ring tailed lemur enclosure in a lightly wooded paddock, they were all hiding in some dense bushes at the side where it's cooler.

    You are now back by the lake, a nice Sumatran tiger enclosure has two parts and viewing from various levels but it feels a bit golf course like, some wilder planting would help. interestingly there is underwater viewing with a clear pool and waterfall full of fish, I don't know if they eat them.

    There is a squirrel monkey enclosure, like a smaller version of the chimp and mandrill enclosures but a walkway has been built across the moat and there is a viewing platform in the enclosure itself.

    Finally a cheetah enclosure similar to the Asian Lions' wooded and shady but not very big.

    All in all I like this zoo - it seems there is potential to do a lot more with the site and i think a focus on desert or arid area animals would help in parts of the zoo and there are many animals found in the Middle East which aren't here. Sand cats also form part of the collection but are kept off display and they have had breeding success. They do work on reintroduction of species in Israel, the zoo is a member of EAZA and WAZA and plays a significant role in bringing together people from very different backgrounds, I definitely recommend a visit if you are in Israel.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jul 2008
  2. jwer

    jwer Well-Known Member

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    Great review of a zoo rather unknown in the western european/USA world i would imagine. And for what i think is a privately run zoo, they seem to be doing very well indeed.
     
  3. markun

    markun Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it's run by a limited company recognised as a non-profit organisation and the board includes representatives from the Jerusalem municipality, the Jerusalem Foundation and the Jerusalem Development authority. It is doing well, the most recent development being the tiger enclosure built last year. There's lots of philanthropy involved, every exhibit seems to be named after someone. I have lots of pictures but won't be able to add them for a while.
     
  4. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    many thanks for a good zoo review , and the inclusion of the English map and website . It is always good to hear about zoos from places that do not make much appearance on the forum
     
  5. drzoomi

    drzoomi Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Jerusalem, Israel
    i uploaded many pics of our zoo, you can watch it and say what you think about it:)

    shai
     
  6. markun

    markun Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the pictures Shai, I should put mine up too
     
  7. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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    Red Panda are no longer in the collection: The lone male died recently
     
  8. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    I thought this might be of interest:

    Attendance figures of tourism attractions in Israel. First past the post is the Masada archeological site, second and third Israel's top zoos: the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem and the Ramat-Gan Safari Park near Tel Aviv. Both these parks have now averaged around 750,000 visitors annually.

    Source: Times of Israel
    Masada is Israel's #1 tourism site | The Times of Israel
     
  9. tutey

    tutey Member

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    10 Mar 2009
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    Location:
    Jerusalem, Israel
    I am a volunteer at the Jerusalem Zoo. At the moment I take care of the "Bird Path", a shady path that leads from the lower level to the upper level. There are feeding tables where visitors can watch local wild birds like sparrows, blackbirds and Eurasian jays, and of course the beautiful tiny sunbirds, which look like hummingbirds but are not related to them.