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