Needless to say, religion is a large part of Hebrew culture, but hand-in-hand with this is the high regard they give to the natural sciences, as well. An example of this is the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, which stands as a sanctuary for the majestic creatures that God has placed on this Earth.
Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is located in Malha, a neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem, Israel. There are a number of ways to get to the place locally. One can go to the zoo directly either by train or by public bus. If one is driving there by private vehicle, turn right from Jerusalem’s main entrance to the Herzl Route (which is in Mt. Herzl’s direction), then turn left upon the 3rd traffic light and right to the Begin South Freeway. Drive to the Freeway’s end at Golomb Junction. Upon the 1st traffic light, turn right to the direction of Kiryat Yovel, and then upon the next traffic light, turn to the left below the bridge. Follow the signs pointing to the zoo, and make another right turn to the parking lot at the zoo’s entrance.
What to See There
One can expect to see many of the familiar zoo animals at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, such as lions, cheetahs, chimpanzees and elephants. But aside from these, there are also the more exotic members of the animal kingdom, such as the Agouti, the Capybara, the Chinchilla, the Cotton-top Tamarin, the Naked Mole Rat, and the Red Panda. The birds in the zoo’s aviaries include the Blue-throated Macaw, the Eurasian Eagle Owl, and the Mandarin Duck, while the Black Swan and the Great White Pelican can be found in their Bird Lake. Among the reptiles and amphibians slinking about are the Burmese Python, the Giant Aldabra Tortoise, the Giant Tree Frog, the Leopard Gecko, the Nile Crocodile, and the Palestine Viper. They also exhibit sea creatures like fish and crabs, as well as invertebrates like snails, scorpions, tarantulas, and even cockroaches!
Founded in September 1940 by Aharon Shulov, a zoology professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo was intended as a research facility gathering the different types of animals that have been mentioned in the Bible. It has since become one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions. Throughout its history, the zoo has changed location a number of times; initially situated at central Jerusalem’s Harav Kook Street, it later relocated to Mt. Scorpus, then to the neighborhood of Romena, where it remained from 1950 to 1991. In 1993, it relocated yet again to Malha, Israel, where it still stands today. Currently, the zoo is officially named the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Israel (after the Tisch Family of New York which funded the institution), but it is still known by the general public as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.
Jerusalem Biblical Zoo charges 47 NIS (New Israeli Shekel) for adult visitors from the age of 18 and above, and 37 NIS for children ages 3 to 18, senior citizens, and soldiers. Children below the age of 3 are admitted for free.
The opening hours of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo varies depending on the days. From Sunday to Thursday, the zoo is open from 9 AM to 7 PM. On Fridays and holiday eves, they are open from 9 AM to 4:30 PM. On Saturdays and holidays, they open from 10 AM to 6 PM. The ticket booth is closed 1 hour prior to closing time. For more information about the zoo, visit their website at http://www.jerusalemzoo.org.il/len/.