The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is the largest zoo in Israel and one of the most popular zoos in the Middle East. Started privately by a zoology professor, it was originally intended to be an exhibit featuring animals described in the Bible. Now called the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, it has since grown into Israel’s defacto national zoo. For several years it ranked as Israel’s number one paid tourist attraction.
The original Animal Corner was founded in 1940 by professor Aharon Shulov of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Originally intended to showcase Biblical animals only, the zoo found it difficult to acquire specimins due to confusion on translations and extinction. Because of this it was required to take on other animal species. Due to neighborhood complaints and regional strife, the zoo was forced to move several times, finally arriving in its current location in 1993. It is still commonly refered to by its original name.
The Biblical Zoo is a mid-size facility with over two thousand animals of nearly three hundred species. The zoo’s main building is themed after Noah’s Ark (no surprise). There is a wide variety of animals on display, with a focus on African species and rare local animals. Animals which are mentioned in the Bible are specifically highlighted. One interesting fact here is that the animals are fed from the proceeds of corporate food tithes, and the food is generally kosher.
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is located in West Jerusalem, just one mile outside of the Old City. It is open year round from 9:00am-5:00pm, with shorter hours on the Sabbath and on holidays. The cost of admission is NIS50.00. Web: www.jerusalemzoo.org.il (official website).