The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo introduces rare Persian fallow deer to its zooBy Mason White 12:10 PM February 6, 2013
|Persian fallow deer|
By: Moses Gold
(Scroll down for video) The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, attracts more than 750,000 visitors each year. People from every background come to see the amazing collection of animals from around the world.
The Biblical Zoo, is involved in conservation initiatives on many species from all over the world.
They have recently introduced the Persian fallow deer, to the zoo. For many years it has been believed that these deer were extinct, until a small family of Persian fallow deer, was found in the mountains of Iran, and they were brought to Israel. They are currently being reintroduced into the wild in two places, one in the north and one here in the hills of Jerusalem.
With a sharp divide between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims and even Israeli Muslims, there are a few places where all the tension is forgotten. One of those places is the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.
Clutching the railing near a small lake in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, six-year-old, Zeinab and seven-year-old Tali, are fascinated by the Siamang gibbons swinging from vines and screaming to visitors. After a while, the girls turn back and join their respective families at a picnic just a few meters or yards of each other in the grass nearby.
The zoo, now expanding, founded in 1939, when the country was still under British rule, was created to bring together all the animals mentioned in the Bible.
The two groups rarely rub shoulders in the playground in the holy city where Jewish and Muslim families visit at the same time.
“Jews and Muslims work together just fine,” said 20-year-old zookeeper Abu Ulfat Katish who greets visitors with a smile at the front gate of the zoo.
“We forget about politics for a moment, even though everyone has their own ideas and no one is willing to give them up,” said Katish, in a purple veil, and the dark green shirt worn by all employees of the zoo.
Young Zeinab came with her parents Sherihan and Mohammed Abu Sbita, from Al-Tur on the Mount of Olives in largely Muslim East Jerusalem.
And Tali, who lives in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Geula, is with her sister Shira, 16, who takes care of her five younger siblings.
“We do our best to accommodate our Muslim visitors. Our notes are translated into Arabic and many zoo employees are Muslims, especially the guides,” said Sigalit Dvir-Hertz, a zoo spokesman.
Originally located in the center of Jerusalem, the zoo was founded by the late Shulov Aharon, a professor considered one of the pioneers in zoology at the Hebrew University.
The zoo changed places several times, especially after the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, the year that the state of Israel was created and a dispute over the ownership of the land which is still opposed by both sides today.
In 1993, the zoo moved to its current location, which is 250 dunams or 25 acres, 62 hectares, on the slopes of a valley overlooked by sweeping pine-covered hills in southern Jerusalem.