The zoo or to give it its official name Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is indisputably one of Jerusalem’s gems; perhaps not least because of its strict anti-mangal (anti-barbecue) and anti-bike policy (picnics welcome).
Entry fees are currently 55 NIS per person (42 NIS for individuals in groups — check out the details of the ticket prices at the end of this article). If you are planning at least three visits over a year, then membership is an option. (Save time and bring passport photos for everyone over three years old.)
The zoo seems to be designed to allow visitors to get as close as possible to the animals and to see them in relatively realistic conditions; so there are many glass windows, transparent tanks and unusual viewing angles.
When you first arrive – go to the visitor’s advice hut on the right, just after the gate – get a map and check out feeding times and any special activities.
Spread over a large area with lots of shade, green areas and a large lake, the zoo contains most of the “must see” animals, lions, tigers, elephants etc, water fowl, penguins as well as some more unusual reptiles. And the kids can even crawl through pipes alongside the burrows. That may be an indications of something.
The new tiger exhibit is not to be missed, make sure that you get to the plate glass window and overhead viewing platform at the very end. of the path. You can also get up close to kangaroos and the younger children will enjoy the petting area and play ground. On a hot day the reptile house has some of the best air conditioning in the Middle East.
It is easy to get around the Jerusalem Zoo – the layout is basically three parallel tracks with numerous cross tracks. There are wide paths, designed for family strolling, getting to the elephants and giraffes can seem to be a long walk on a hot day (the zoo is on the side of a hill after all!!). Fortunately, there is a “train” service that saves your feet for a small additional cost. Additional attractions are in the Noah’s Ark exhibition area and the 3D theatre.
The zoo has many additional activities; details can be found on the website including open air music on Friday lunchtimes and in the summer “after dark” programs (book in advance). The zoo gets incredibly busy over any of the holidays (when some of the services like the train and membership office close). Generally speaking, however, there is plenty of room for everybody. Picnics are welcome, there are some food options inside and plenty of ice cream stands to help you cool off.
The zoo is an oasis of green and peace; so you should decide in advance how long you want to allocate for your visit. For more photos of the zoo – Jerusalem Zoo Album.
The zoo is a paradise for photographing animals (and children with some of the animals.) It is wheelchair accessible; although be warned that it is very expansive and there are some steep paths.