Our Dedicated Team of Therapists
Hello valued supporters!
We are well into the new school year and are happy to report that the Animal Assisted Therapy Program is off to a good start.
This program is one of the leading educational activities at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo which itself continues to serve an important communal role for all of Jerusalem’s diverse population. The program started small in 1998 with 4 experimental groups. Since then it has grown significantly. The special education frameworks in Jerusalem see this program as an exceptional and unique opportunity to expose students to cutting edge therapeutic techniques. It is also a valuable and enjoyable experience for participants who, due to the many expenses for families with special needs children, are unable to visit the Zoo on a regular basis. In addition, the program has an indirect impact on changing the wider community’s outlook towards special needs individuals by setting a good example of inclusion and acceptance.
Although the majority of our groups consist of children in need of special education, we also serve a number of adult groups with disabilities. As always, we cater to people from all of Jerusalem’s diverse communities: Jews, Christians and Muslims, religious and secular. Last year we were also joined by two groups of Palestinian children which represented a new challenge. In the past, our Arab attendees have been Israeli Arab groups who are citizens of Israel. In addition to the fact that the Palestinian children came from problematic homes where many are neglected by their parents, their political identity (and that of their caregivers’) is in sharp opposition to Israel. For this reason, at the start of the school year, many had grave doubts that we would be able to successfully treat these children because they viewed our therapists with suspicion and mistrust. However, we are pleased to report that by the end of the year these barriers had been overcome and a full therapeutic relationship had been established. Through respect and consistency, our team was able to bridge the divide. These children received a double portion: in addition to receiving the regular animal assisted therapy provided to all participants, they also benefited from the opportunity of learning to build a positive relationship with Israelis. It was also a very valuable experience for our therapeutic team.
It is with great pride that we share a quote from the audit committee of the Israel Zoos Association from their annual inspection report:
“The Committee wishes to commend the extensive special education activities. There can be no doubt that special education is one of the most important goals of zoos in general, and that Animal Assisted Therapy is the most important among those activities.”
Despite financial difficulties, we are committed to continuing our efforts to help the many children who are in need. It is a privilege to continue to make this program available to the residents of Jerusalem. Thank you for joining us in these efforts!
The Animal Assisted Therapy Team at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
The "Animal House" therapy classrooms
The Petting Zoo