Education as a Bridge Between Communities

 
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An Ultra Orthodox Jewish school field trip
An Ultra Orthodox Jewish school field trip

Hello Jerusalem Biblical Zoo supporters!

As usual, the Spring and early Summer season has been a busy time here at the Zoo with people from all of Israel's diverse communities visiting in large numbers to enjoy the beautiful green space, see the fascinating animals and, most importantly, to learn more about wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability.

As the Jerusalem weather got warmer, more and more schools and other institutions have sent groups to the Zoo for field trips. We are very proud to be able to offer guided school field trips tailored especially for our two largest communities: the Jewish Ultra Orthodox and the Arabic-speaking communities in and around Jerusalem. Both of these communities have particular needs and so, with the assistance of generous donors like you, we are able to provide allow school groups to visit the Zoo for heavily discounted admission fees – and, in addition, we provide a FREE education guide. Our view is that this encourages schools to use the Zoo as an educational resource and not merely as a recreational outing and, by providing a guide, we can ensure that the students receive information about wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability issues. We are pleased to report that many schools have taken advantage of this opportunity and between September 2014 and June 2015, we received almost 40,000 participants in these special education programs!

At the beginning of July, our summer day camp opened and we are pleased to once again welcome hundreds of elementary school children for what is widely considered to be one of the best educational camp experiences in Jerusalem.

The Zoo will also be busy with many other special educational activities and events over the course of the summer – stay tuned for details in our next report!

Wishing you all a wonderful summer of fun and learning,

The Education Team at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

An Arabic-language school field trip
An Arabic-language school field trip
Summer Camp at the Zoo
Summer Camp at the Zoo
Learning about planting for the future
Learning about planting for the future

Hello Jerusalem Biblical Zoo supporters!

As usual, Spring has been a busy time here at the Zoo with people from all of Israel's diverse communities visiting in large numbers to enjoy the beautiful green space, see the fascinating animals and, most importantly, to learn more about wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability.

Spring activities began with our annual arbor day celebrations. Because the current Jewish year is a sabbatical year (shmita) - during which the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity, including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting, is forbidden by Jewish law - we are unable to plant any new trees until the Fall which will herald the start of the next Jewish year. Instead, our young visitors were educated about the cultivation cycle and were able to take away annual planters to water and tend at home. 

Shortly after, came the annual Purim celebrations, during which it is traditional to dress up in costume and then the Spring (Passover/Easter) holidays. Various activities were on offer including dramatic performances, family workshops and guided animal feedings. 

Between the holidays, our regular education programming continues and we continue to welcome individuals, families and groups of all ages and from all over the country who participate in our many different educational opportunities.

Wishing you all a happy Spring season - stay tuned for summer news in our next report.

The Team at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

Everybody coming together for fun and learning
Everybody coming together for fun and learning
Arbor Day Activities
Arbor Day Activities
Purim Activities
Purim Activities
Passover Activities
Passover Activities
Unbelievable Encounters with Elephants
Unbelievable Encounters with Elephants

With the snow of winter behind us and the days starting to lengthen once more, here at the Zoo we're preparing for the fine weather of Spring. 

Our Winter Weekends Program has begun which includes the Unbelievable Encounters with Elephants activities. Friday Zoo visitors are treated to a special elephant training viewing during which they learn about the unique qualities of endangered Asian Elephants, threats to their natural habitat, and view firsthand the personal contact training methods used with our females to ensure that they cooperate willingly with health examinations. Visitors also learn about elephant diet and exercise needs. 

In other exciting news, the Gifted Students High School Zoology Graduation Program for 2015 has begun with a new group of eager and motivated teens. We look forward to another collection of interesting scientific research during the course of this year. 

The new Sea Israel educational website has received almost 1,000 visitors since it launched in September. The site provides a variety of educational content on the Mediterranean Sea for all ages including articles, videos, cartoons, and more. In addition, a comprehensive education plan for the Sea Israel Aquarium facility (currently under construction at the Zoo) has been compiled by our expert team of educators and marine biologists. Visitors to the future aquarium will learn about the importance of the world's oceans, seas, lakes and rivers in a variety of interesting and fun ways.

Our usual after school programs, school field trip programs, Animal Assisted Therapy, Zoomobile traveling workshops, and a variety of other programs continue to run as usual.

Stay tuned to hear about the special Spring educational activities coming up and thank you again for your support. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2015!

The Gifted Students High School Graduation Program
The Gifted Students High School Graduation Program
Winter Weekends Program at the Zoo
Winter Weekends Program at the Zoo
Arabic Language Zoo Guide Training Course Oct 2014
Arabic Language Zoo Guide Training Course Oct 2014

The Zoo hosted many educational workshops and special activities over the Jewish High Holiday season which were well-attended. Our family ecological workshops - presented at the Zoo by the staff of the Zoomobile outreach program - once again proved to be very popular.

Education programs are in full swing since the start of the new school year. Aside from the popular weekly after-school program, and the ever popular Animal Assisted Therapy program, we continue to receive many school groups that attend as part of the ongoing education programs for both Hebrew and Arabic speakers.

This past week, the Zoo held a training course designed specifically for Arabic-speaking education guides. It was three day course designed and presented by two of our senior Arab staff members and was also attended by a representative from Qalqilya Zoo. the only zoo in the West Bank. We are planning a further training course in the future for all of our education guides but this one was tailored specifically to Arabic speakers.The course was very successful, with the guides receiving both formal lectures and practical training with our zookeeping team. In addition, the newer guides received the benefit of being exposed to the experience of more senior staff members.

We are delighted to see that the numbers of visiting Arab school groups are climbing steeply again after the fall in numbers caused by the conflict over the summer and we continue to strive toward creating a neutral and peaceful space where all of Jerusalem's diverse communities feel welcome to visit together.

Lectures
Lectures
Practical training with zookeepers
Practical training with zookeepers
Arabic-speaking education program participants
Arabic-speaking education program participants
Summer Educational Activities at the Zoo
Summer Educational Activities at the Zoo

As many of you will have seen on the news, the last month has been a challenging one here in Israel and no less so here at the Zoo. What would normally be our peak visitor period saw a marked drop in visitor numbers at the start of the conflict. However, over the last three weeks, the Zoo has opened its doors to more than 37,000 visitors from the towns and kibbutzim near Gaza who travel here for a few hours of relief from the rocket attacks (thankfully, Jerusalem is in a relatively safe zone). The Zoo has opened its doors to these communities as part of the national relief effort. So, the Zoo is full of people (on some days over 4,000 visitors per day) but unfortunately not for the usual fun summer reasons.

As usual, we continue to welcome visitors from all over Israel and from all communities – Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze and others; secular and religious; young and old. We feel that in times of conflict, it is especially important to facilitate a neutral meeting place for different communities to come together. And while they are here, we do our best to provide an experience that is both fun and educational so that each visitor leaves knowing more about wildlife conservation and environmental issues.

Summer special educational activities have included:

  • The Zoo Summer Camp – considered by many to be the best summer camp in Jerusalem, participants are taught about animals, biodiversity and environmental issues in a fun and experiential setting.
  • Zoo Around the Clock: Sunrise, Sunset & Sleepover Tours – providing visitors with an opportunity to tour the Zoo during the cooler hours, as well as to see some of what visitors normally don’t experience behind-the-scenes. The tours are themed:  Night Owls focuses on nocturnal species such as bats, owls, hedgehogs and others; Night of Mystery deals with animals serving as cultural symbols from birds of paradise in Papua New Guinea to cormorants in Japan; Upside-down World is all about different bat species from around the world; Waking Up with the Rhinoceros allows visitor to get up close and personal with our rhinos and their keepers; Giraffes at Bedtime is a sunset tour of the herbivore section including a behind-the-scenes look at the giraffes’ house and learning more about local herbivore species like the Persian Fallow Deer; Sunset with the Elephants is a late evening encounter with our Asian Elephants, including a feeding.
  • Animal Enrichment Activities – an opportunity for visitors to see how we challenge and stimulate various animal species for the benefit of their mental development (studies have shown that this is critical to animal health and welfare in captivity).
  • The Magic of Nature - meet the keepers and ask them everything you ever wanted to know about animals.
  • Children's Petting Zoo – open all day, and including encounters with a wider range of animals in the Living House classroom behind the petting zoo.
  • All in the Family - an experiential animal workshop for families which addressed the social structure and family life of various animal species;
  • Noah's Power - an ecologically-themed dramatic performance presented at the Sculpture Garden Amphitheater: the countdown to the flood has begun and the first drops of rain are already falling. It is a race against time for Noah to complete the Ark and to save all the animal species from extinction. He is hampered in his mission by an unpleasant neighbor, a thieving crow. Will these quarreling neighbors be able to save the planet's animals from extinction? The play addresses issues of putting aside differences in favor of a higher mission; the rich natural world with which our planet is blessed; and our responsibility to take care of it.
  • Window into the Mediterranean – a daily manned information booth and display about this precious and challenged aquatic habitat staff from our education department on hand to answer questions and provide detailed information.
  • The Sea from Above and Below – an exhibition of photographic entries to the competition Man and the Ocean, which is held annually under the auspices of the Dolphin Foundation and the Herzliyya Science Center. The competition provides teenagers with an opportunity to submit various types of projects (including research papers) on any topic related to the sea in the categories of photography, cinema, technology, boating and marine sciences. The purpose of the competition is to encourage the involvement of the younger generation in all issues affecting our oceans and seas: marine habitats; the sea as a resource and a recreational pastime; and above all the urgent need to protect the oceans from many ecological threats.
  • Wildlife - A World in Danger of Extinction is a photographic exhibition continues to be on display at the Noah's Ark Visitor Center. Wildlife photographer Dafna Ben Nun travels all over the world to photograph endangered species in their natural habitats. Dafna's aim is to educate the public about the extraordinary beauty and biodiversity at risk in our world. Proceeds from the sale of photographs will be donated to wildlife conservation programs.

Thank you for joining us in these efforts at raising awareness of wildlife conservation and environmental issues with visitors of all ages and backgrounds; while at the same time providing a neutral meeting place for people of different faiths, nationalities, and political views. As always, it is our privilege to receive our diverse community and to educate visitors in a beautiful and peaceful green space in the heart of Jerusalem.

We look forward to continuing this important work and continue to hope for a peaceful future.

Shalom!

Zoo Summer Camp
Zoo Summer Camp
Sunrise Tours
Sunrise Tours
Summer Zoo Sleepovers
Summer Zoo Sleepovers
Window on the Mediterranean
Window on the Mediterranean
Photography Competition:The Sea from Above & Below
Photography Competition:The Sea from Above & Below

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