Paul Calvert questions Liz Kaufman who is staff veterinarian at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, about their conservation work and education programmes.

Liz Kaufman
Liz Kaufman

Paul: When was the zoo started and why was it started?

Liz: 25 years ago we started construction on this site. The old site was in the middle of Jerusalem, and it was a very small site in what is now a housing project; they still call it the zoo.

We moved to Malha on the outskirts of the city to a 35 acre area, which was blank, all the trees that you see here today were planted and that would have been 25 years ago.

Paul: What is the mission of the zoo?

Liz: The mission of the zoo is conservation, education and entertainment. We want people to have fun and we want them to learn about conservation issues.

Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

We are part of a lot of conservation projects for breeding. We work very closely with all of the conservation bodies. The Nature Reserves Authority, all of the protection conservation and wildlife agencies, we work very closely with them, to educate the public about conservation issues; about what they can do to help, and what they need to be careful of when they are out camping and hiking.

We are also involved with the breeding of endangered species from around the world.

And fun, we want people to have fun. We want them to come and enjoy and see things they would not get to see in other places.

Paul: What sort of endangered species are you looking after?

Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

Liz: We have golden lion tamarins, which are a worldwide endangered species. The ones that are critically important to us are griffin vultures, which we are breeding and releasing back into the Golan. We have the core breeding group of fallow deer, which are mentioned in the Bible. They are endemic to this area and we have released hundred's up north and to other parts of the country. Sand cats which we have bred and released are endangered and also endemic.

Paul: So it has been a very successful breading programme?

Liz: So far we've been very successful, not as much success with the Israeli sub species of the Eurasian otter but we are working on that. That is also a highly endangered species.

Paul: How many people come here and visit each year?

Liz: I think it's between 700 and 800 thousand people a year.