'We see the role of the Biblical Zoo in education and publicity with all that is connected to the conservation and the increase of endangered animals," says Dr. Sigalit Herz, the spokeswoman of the Biblical Zoo. "Visitors come because it is fun, but they also gain awareness of nature preservation and the environment, and how to save animals that face extinction. Today, the role of the modern zoo is to spearhead education and information."
The zoo reaches a very large public to spread the message of conservation.
During the week of Succot, 30,000 people visited the Biblical Zoo, many of whom were exposed to the conservation efforts through guided tours and activities. "Now when they visit nature reserves, they are aware of the wildlife," notes Herz.
In addition to Yoram Shpirer's photo exhibition (in the Noah's Ark Visitors Center), other activities on Succot were devoted to the Griffon vultures. These included workshops on why they are endangered, films on feeding the vultures, a presentation of the work of the zoo's Israel Raptor Breeding Center where visitors saw how the chicks are measured and fed, and guided tours of the raptors section in the zoo.
"The breeding center was chosen in this zoo because of the manpower, equipment and experience of the zoo," says Shmulik Yedvab of the Israel
Raptor Breeding Center. "Our specialty is the Griffon vulture, but in addition we also hatch eggs of the Egyptian vulture and the Lanner falcon. The main hatching and caring for chicks takes place from the end of January until the end of June. The purpose is to maximize the results, to increase the population of birds of prey in general and the Griffon vultures in particular."
In 2008, in honor of Israel's 60th anniversary, a nationwide vote organized by various nature and bird authorities was held to choose Israel's national bird. In the Biblical Zoo's vote held among its visitors, the Griffon vulture came in first place. In the final national vote, the hoopoe bird (duchifat) came in first place to become the national bird, and the Griffon vulture was voted seventh place.
Herz comments, "Perhaps the vulture came in first place at the zoo because visitors had a chance to see the vulture, an otherwise unknown bird, as compared to the hoopoe which is more well known. It is important to learn about this endangered bird."
For more information about the exhibition, contact the Biblical Zoo: 675-0111.