This winter, Jerusalem experienced the worst blizzard on record for the last century. Three days of heavy snowfall left the city blanketed in over 2 feet of snow and high winds caused extensive damage to the Biblical Zoo's grounds, especially to our mature trees and vegetation. Sadly, we also lost 2 infant collared peccaries and 2 hammerkop birds to the unforeseen extreme temperatures; as well as 2 flamingos who were struck by a falling palm tree that collapsed under the weight of the snow.
Whilst new vegetation can be planted to replace what was lost, it can take years for trees to reach the same shade-giving level of maturity so important to both animals and visitors alike during hot summers in the Middle East. Transplanting mature trees is very costly in Israel. As much as we are able, we source mature trees from areas where they would have been destroyed - for example, by the construction of new neighborhoods - thus saving beautiful trees that took decades to mature.
Replacement of the mature vegetation lost is important for both animal welfare and visitor enjoyment. Our animals are our top priority at the Biblical Zoo, and so we would like to be able to replace the shady conditions they are used to enjoying prior to the arrival of the summer season. By providing a high level of visitor enjoyment, the Biblical Zoo attracts more people which in turn provides an opportunity to educate them about nature conservation and environmental sustainability issues.
The Biblical Zoo provides superior care to over 1,000 animals 365 days a year - this care includes providing them with optimal comfort conditions in summer for which shade is essential. The Biblical Zoo also receives over 750,000 visitors annually, with hot summers being our busiest period. It is important that visitors should be able to enjoy the shady walkways and rest areas that we have worked so hard to cultivate over the last 20 years.