With officials long worried that a serious injury, or even death, is just
waiting to happen, a multimillion-shekel barrier is under construction in the
capital to separate loud, unruly crowds from frequent
Sound like another security hot spot? Try the chimpanzee
exhibit at the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem, popularly known as
the Biblical Zoo.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to be stoned by a chimp,”
said zoo director Shai Doron.
“Chimps know how to throw forehand, but
can’t throw overhand, like a baseball. So usually the rocks they throw have a
big arc and people have time to escape.”
“The chimps throw rocks every
time they’re upset when there are a lot of people,” explained Noa Danen, the
head of the primate section at the zoo. “People thought it was funny, until they
got a rock in the head.”
Instead of leaving the area when the primates
are upset, news of chimpanzees throwing rocks usually draws even larger crowds,
“And monkeys throw really well,” she noted.
frequent incidents of irate chimps tossing rocks at the public, the zoo
installed a net across the chimpanzee exhibit 10 years ago. While it took care
of the danger of injury, it made the chimps hard to see and even harder to
A new, reinforced glass barrier is part of a NIS 2 million
general overhaul of the chimpanzee exhibit, which will include more room for the chimpanzees to frolic. The plan includes filling in the moat to allow the
residents to come right up to the glass and interact with their fellow primates
“nose to nose,” Doron said. The glass will be specially treated so as not to
shatter on impact from stones or other projectiles.
The zoo will also
cover the exhibit with a deep layer of fresh soil, not the rocky
in the hopes of halting the flow of weapons into the chimps’ hands.
two-month renovation will be completed at the end of next month, and
feature two new bridges, one an Indiana Jones-style rope bridge. The
will allow visitors to see the exhibit from above one side and watch the
from an even closer, yet still protected, angle.
The money came from the
zoo’s endowment fund and was supplemented by a grant from the Tourism
which is especially interested in keeping the chimp exhibit
Part of the project had included a NIS 50,000 initiative to
install outdoor air conditioners in the chimpanzee exhibit, until
decided that the air conditioners would make it too cold for the African
primates, Danen said.
The holidays are an especially busy time for the
zoo, which is expecting upwards of 4,000 visitors a day during the
days of Succot.
This is certainly higher than on an average weekend, but
nothing near the 14,000 visitors who came each day during the
Zoo officials were mostly amused by the sudden media interest
in the “monkey intifada” playing out at the Biblical Zoo.
“It’s a nice
joke, but the big idea is to create a better quality of life for the
a better experience for the visitor,” said Doron. “I really believe that
interaction – with respect from both sides, both animal and human –
leads to a
higher awareness and deeper involvement of visitors in wildlife
their personal behavior.”
“And we don’t call it a ‘separation fence,’”
“Instead of a fence, now there will be windows.”
Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin
Think others should know about this? Please share