Spread over a scenic 62-acre ridge among Jerusalem's hilly southern neighborhoods, this zoo has many of the usual species that delight zoo visitors everywhere: monkeys and elephants, snakes and birds, and all the rest. But it goes much further, focusing on two groups of wildlife. The first is creatures mentioned in the Bible that have become locally extinct, some as late as the 20th century. Among these are Asian lions, bears, cheetahs, the Nile crocodile, and the Persian fallow deer. The second focus is on endangered species worldwide, among them the Asian elephant and rare macaws. At the time of this writing, the new aquarium was planned to be completed in mid-2017.
This is a wonderful place to let kids expend some energy—there are lawns and playground equipment—and allow adults some downtime from touring. Early morning or late afternoon are the best hours in summer; budget 2½ hours to see (almost) everything. A wagon train does the rounds of the zoo, at a nominal fee of NIS 2 (not on Saturdays and Jewish holidays). The Noah's Ark Visitors Center has a movie and computer programs. The zoo is served by city routes 26A (from Central Bus Station) and 33 (from Mount Herzl). The ride is about 30 minutes; a cab would take 15 minutes from Downtown hotels.