top of page
  • Writer's pictureMark Vogel

Taking a Walk on the Wild Side: A Visitor's Guide to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel

Jerusalem, Israel


The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel

During my travels around the world, I've visited numerous zoos, but the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, officially known as the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, stands out as one of the best. Situated in the Malha neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel, this zoo not only houses a diverse collection of animals but also holds significant historical and cultural importance.

 

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo was initially established in 1940 as a small children's zoo on Harav Kook Street in central Jerusalem. Founded by Prof. Aharon Shulov, a pioneer in zoology at the Hebrew University, the zoo faced early challenges due to the uncertainty of animal names in Scriptures and the extinction of many Biblical animals in Israel. Despite these obstacles, the zoo expanded its focus to include endangered species worldwide.


Book a Tour: Top Jerusalem Tours


“With over 200 species and over 2,200 animals, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo offers an expansive and engaging experience for visitors of all ages. It's a place where history, nature, and conservation intertwine, making it a must-visit destination in Jerusalem.”

Throughout its history, the zoo encountered several relocations. After complaints about noise and smell at its original site, it moved to Shmuel HaNavi Street in 1941. In 1947, during the Israeli War of Independence, it relocated to Mount Scopus, where many animals suffered due to the siege of Jerusalem. Eventually, in 1950, the zoo moved to a 15-hectare site in Givat Komuna, near Romema, where it grew into a beloved Jerusalem institution. Finally, in 1993, the zoo moved to its current 62-acre location, made possible by the generosity of the Tisch family.


The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel

Today, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is a marvel of conservation and education. It's particularly notable for its efforts in displaying and conserving animals mentioned in Jewish scriptures, with informative textual references in front of each exhibit. The zoo plays a crucial role in reintroducing locally extinct Biblical species to their natural habitats and conserving non-Israeli endangered species.

 

The zoo's layout is impressive, featuring two main levels housing most animal exhibits, connected by a main circular route and additional side paths. Highlights include the Sculpture Garden with playful sculptures of animals and a central sculpture of Noah's Ark, perfect for children. The zoo also includes facilities like free parking, disabled guest accommodations, a cafeteria, and is kid friendly.


The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo houses a wide variety of animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians. Notable species include the Addax, African Penguin, Asian Elephant, Asian Lion, Chimpanzee, Eurasian Otter, Grey Wolf, Nile Crocodile, Orangutan, Persian Fallow Deer, Red Panda, Rhinoceros Iguana, and White Rhinoceros. This diverse collection makes the zoo a fascinating destination for animal lovers.

 

With over 200 species and over 2,200 animals, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo offers an expansive and engaging experience for visitors of all ages. It's a place where history, nature, and conservation intertwine, making it a must-visit destination in Jerusalem.

 

Jerusalem Biblical Zoo Visitors Guide

 

1. Variety of Animals: The zoo hosts a wide range of animals, including species mentioned in the Bible and endangered species from around the world. The exhibits are well-designed, offering a close and intimate view of the animals. Elevated walkways provide unique viewing perspectives, especially over areas like the African Savannah. The zoo is particularly enjoyable for children, featuring a petting zoo, a playground, and an ecological playground. It's a great place for family outings.

 

2. Afro-Asiatic Wildlife Collection: The zoo is renowned for its collection of wildlife from the Afro-Asiatic region, many of which are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. This makes it a unique attraction, blending biblical history with natural conservation.

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel

3. Focus on Endangered Species: Alongside biblical animals, the zoo has a significant emphasis on breeding and conserving endangered species from around the world.

 

4. Landscape and Design: The zoo is set in a picturesque valley in southwestern Jerusalem, offering a serene and natural setting. It's landscaped with native trees and shrubs, contributing to the overall ambiance.

 

5. Interactive and Educational Areas: There are various experiential activities and rich informational displays on the animals. This includes a living classroom, where visitors, especially children, can encounter and learn about a variety of animals up close.

 

6. System of Pools and Manmade Lake: The zoo features a network of pools and a manmade lake with purified and recycled water, surrounded by grassy areas and shaded spots, enhancing the visitor experience.

 

7. The Noah's Ark Visitor Center: Situated at the far end of the Bibleland Wildlife Preserve, from where you can observe the African Savannah exhibit, the ark not only provides an immersive animal-viewing experience but also offers stunning views of the zoo and its surrounding landscape.


The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel

8. Accessibility and Visitor Paths: The zoo itself is spread over two levels, with the lower level constructed around a system of lakes and the upper level hosting many of the larger exhibits. The paths are accessible and designed for easy navigation for pedestrians, baby carriages, and those with physical challenges.

 

9. Zoo Train: The Zoo train, with a starting point at the Squirrel Monkey exhibit, includes stops at the Bear exhibit, the Noah’s Ark Visitor Center, and the Hippopotamus exhibit. This train offers a guided tour of the zoo, enhancing the visitor experience.

 

10. Special Tours: The zoo offers a range of special tours, including behind-the-scenes tours, overnight tours, and personalized guided tours for groups and individuals. These tours offer deeper insights into the zoo's operations and animal care.


The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo not only offers a chance to see a diverse range of animals but also educates visitors about conservation and the importance of protecting wildlife. Its unique setting and focus on both biblical and endangered species make it a standout attraction in Israel.

 

Overall, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo offers a unique blend of nature, education, and relaxation, making it a must-visit destination in Jerusalem. The zoo is known for its relaxing atmosphere, informative displays, and the well-maintained environment. It's a great place to spend a day, or at least several hours to fully enjoy the experience.


Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium

 

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, renowned for its diverse range of animals, is complemented by the adjacent Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium. This aquarium, the first of its kind in Israel, focuses on the conservation of Israel's marine habitats and showcases the aquatic life from the Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, and Red Sea.

 

Key Features of the Israel Aquarium:


- Location: The aquarium is situated next to the Biblical Zoo, about 1.5 km from the zoo's entrance. It's easily accessible by walking or driving along the access road starting at the end of the Zoo's parking area. The 26A bus also reaches the aquarium entrance.


- Exhibits: Visitors can explore a shark tank with a viewing station and walk-through tunnel, sting ray feeding pool, and pop-up stations that give a sense of being in the tank. There are also viewing windows into the science labs and containment areas.


The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Israel

- Tours: The aquarium offers guided tours, which need to be booked in advance. Tours are available in English or Hebrew and last approximately 90 minutes. Visitors aged 5 and above are eligible for tours.


- Self-Guided Visits: Guests can explore the aquarium on their own, with guides available near each exhibit to provide information.


- Ticket Purchase: Tickets must be purchased in advance through the aquarium's website, with visit slots published about two weeks in advance.

 

The Israel Aquarium is a fascinating extension to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo experience, offering a chance to explore marine life and engage in educational activities related to aquatic conservation. It's an ideal visit for families and individuals interested in nature and wildlife. For more detailed information about the exhibits and planning your visit, you can visit the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo's official website.


Book a Tour: Top Jerusalem Tours

Comments


Recent Articles

bottom of page