Bringing together all communities - Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and others - in Jerusalem, through environmental education to inspire members of divided communities to conserve the environment and local wildlife. Finding common ground facilitates mutual respect, understanding and dialogue as well as a sense of the wider community between diverse ethnic and religious groups so that together we can strive toward a shared future.
This project addresses the coexistence challenge in Jerusalem where decades of political conflict has led to deep mutual distrust between communities. Few opportunities for personal contact between communities leads to stereotyping. By engaging in ongoing positive interaction, participants from neighboring communities gain mutual understanding, respect and trust at the grassroots level. Even simply visiting the Zoo in the company of other communities exposes people to a different reality.
The Zoo's many and varied education programs include school field trips; after school programs; summer camps; the animal assisted therapy program for children and adults with special needs; the high school graduation program for gifted students; ecology workshops, plays and conservation activities; professional seminars and academic research projects. By providing a safe space for interaction about a neutral subject - nature conservation - the Zoo makes dialogue possible and breaks barriers.
More than 750,000 visitors benefit from indirect education at the Zoo annually; while over 100,000 young people participate in varied direct environmental education programs enabling them to serve as leaders for nature conservation in their communities and as ambassadors for change. By focusing on protection of the environment as a shared goal, the Zoo aims to provide a setting for trust and relationship building by helping people create a new narrative of inter-communal cooperation.