Commonly known as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens is overflowing with wildlife featured throughout the Hebrew Bible. Located in the Malha neighborhood of Jerusalem, the gardens sit on 62 acres of beautiful land. Home to 271 different species of wildlife, it is no surprise that the Zoo is one of the most engaging and exciting places to visit in all of Jerusalem!
History Of The Zoo
Founded by Aharon Shulov, the Biblical Zoo opened in 1940 as a small “animal corner” on Rabbi Kook Street in central Jerusalem. A professor of zoology at the Hebrew University, Shulov wanted to provide a unique research facility for his students to gain an understanding of the wildlife referenced in Biblical text. The Zoo faced some initial difficulties with the extinction of so many animals from Biblical times, as well as the literal translations of the names of some species.
Throughout its beginning stages, the Zoo faced many complaints from neighbors because of the extensive noises and odors coming from the animals. In 1947, Schulov eventually had to move his 122 animals to a plot of land provided by the University. The siege of Jerusalem during the Arab-Israeli War in 1948 created a dark and unproductive time for the Zoo, with violence and lack of resources leading to the deaths of many of the Zoo’s inhabitants.
It was not until 1950 that the United Nations helped relocate the Zoo to Romema, where it became a beloved Jerusalem institution. After raising enough funds for a large-scale upgrade, the Zoo closed its doors at Romema in 1991 and reopened in Jerusalem’s Malha neighborhood in 1993 where it stands today.
What To Expect When Visiting
The Biblical Zoo is built on two main levels with a motorized train that takes visitors throughout the entire park. With the expansion in 1993, the Zoo’s exhibits received open area upgrades where animals are free-roaming behind appropriate trenches, moats, and glass windows. Each of the 271 species comfortably live within their respective natural habitat, with appropriate food sources being tithed via Israeli companies in accordance with Jewish law. Behind the scenes, the Zoo houses an animal medical center, laboratory, and a quarantine unit to fight disease.
As much as the Biblical Zoo is centered around the concept of animals found within the Bible, Schulov also wanted the Zoo to be a safe place for endangered species to not only survive, but to thrive and repopulate. The Zoo has successfully saved many species through its programs, having released many back into the wild to live in their natural habitats.
Public education and environmental awareness are two major components of what makes the Zoo so successful today. In their efforts to promote tolerance and respect on multiple fronts, the Zoo features special programs that allow visitors to interact with animals and people.
The Biblical Zoo regularly participates in national and international research projects in the fields of zoology, biology, and environmental science. The Zoo also helps to provide grants for research on animal welfare, reintroduction of endangered species, conservation genetics, and exotic animal nutrition. With so many extraordinary exhibits to witness and programs in which to participate, the Zoo is one of the most popular attractions for those visiting the Holy Land.