Feb 22, 2021

Winter Update 2021

Visitors enjoying the re-opened Aquarium
Visitors enjoying the re-opened Aquarium

The Aquarium (and the Zoo) were closed to visitors during the three lockdowns in Israel in March-May, in September-October and again at the end of the year with a third lockdown that started on December 28, 2020.

Overall, there were a total of 119 days of complete closure in the 2020 calendar year.

Happily, the Aquarium was able to re-open on February 21, with limited entries.

This all, of course, has been a devastating blow to our operating budget, being nearly a third of the year with no income. Our expenses remain high, we have fish to care for and exhibitions to maintain. We have made significant efforts to reduce costs as much as possible without compromising on the quality of the services we offer.

As a result of the lockdowns, many of our suppliers were unable to operate due to worldwide travel restrictions.

With the resumption of international flights during the time between lockdowns, we were able to restart our efforts to complete our zoological collection, especially in Tank 15: the Large Red Sea.

In December 2020, one of the first shipments we received was the much awaited blue blubber jellies from Hong Kong to fill the three renovated round tanks.

A huge crowd-pleaser, the jellyfish exhibition also gives us the opportunity to educate our visitors about the dangers of pollution in our oceans: for example, when larger fish confuse plastics and plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them.

The new jellies
The new jellies
Jan 3, 2021

Winter Update 2021

Another successful year of this program has been completed.

In the last three years, 24 individuals were released to the wild:

8 in 2018 (2 females, 6 males)

9 in 2019 (6 females, 3 males)

7 in 2020 (3 females and 4 males).

GPS tracking has improved significantly as the number of transmitting individuals increased from 3 to 11 (in its peak) in the last 3 years. Furthermore, our expertise in using GPS tracking has improved significantly, as a result we are collecting and analysing more accurate and larger volumes of spatial data

Looking back at what we have achieved: in 2017 – 2018, the status of the introduction of fallow deer in the "Nahal Soreq" nature reserve was unclear to the point of questioning its viability. After 3 years of comprehensive efforts, research and analysis, the project status is unfolding presenting positive indications regarding its potential success:

  • Population size is estimated to have increased in the last 3 years from 40-50 individuals (2018) to 90-100 (2020).
  • Evidence of fawns born in the wild is being collected repeatedly showing an increase in photo event numbers each year.
  • Evidence of fawns of nature-born females (third generation) was collected for the first time last year and continues to be collected again this year.
  • The total number of nature-born photo events keeps increasing significantly from year to year, thus supporting positive evidence of population stability.
  • In the last 3 years we have positively identified 23 marked males and 27 marked females still roaming in the wild

One of the highlights for us the other month was to see these pictures on our trail cameras of this magificent, nature-born, male deer in the area of Har HaTayasim, in the Jerusalem Hills!

We look forward to the continuation of these successes as we enter into 2021.

Nov 2, 2020

Fall Update 2020

Our new vulture (Photo: Michal Erez)
Our new vulture (Photo: Michal Erez)

A new arrival at the Zoo's Birds of Prey Department is the lappet-faced vulture.

Known in Hebrew as ozniat hanegev, meaning “the powerful one”, and mentioned twice in the Bible, the lappet-faced vulture has been regionally extinct in Israel since the 1980's.

There were 25-30 pairs bred in the Arava and Negev until the 1950s and the last breeding event in the western Negev was in the Nizzana-Shivta area, in 1966.

In 1973, 11 pairs bred in the Arava. This number decreased to 4 pairs in 1980 and one pair in 1986-1989. The last nesting event was recorded in 1989 in the Yotvata area. One pair remained in the Sde Boker area until 1993 and a few vagrants were seen in Israel in the 1990s.

(Source: Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

These magnificent birds live in the desert and in wadis (valleys) with acacia trees and are the most powerful of all of the vultures. Other vultures gather around tough-hided carrion and wait for the lappet-faced vulture to arrive and rip the carcass open with its beak.

With the normalization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, we hope to be able to start a collaboration with the local conservation authorities and zoos there to see how we can work together to preserve these species who are native to the region.

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