The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in Romema

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Footage taken from Jerusalem Reel 9, shot in 1969.

I almost forgot the Biblical Zoo [now known as the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem] in Romema where every visit was a journey into the most spellbinding world. I distinctly recall the steep descent from the main road into the depths of the gardens whose architects had set out to create as seamless a sense of nature as possible for its animal inhabitants, even though the vast majority of it was designed and planted especially for them. Each and every animal was assigned its own relevant biblical quote. If memory serves, we were especially fond of the massive giraffe.
The zoo in the neighbourhood of Romema was built in 1950, replacing its predecessor that was located at Mount Scopus where the animals suffered terribly throughout many air raids during the 1948 War of Independence. Following negotiations with the Jordanians, the latter agreed to bring the animals down from Mount Scopus to the compound that had been built on Commune Hill (in Romema). Except that of the 200 animals based on Mount Scopus, only 18 remained – including a tiger, hyena, two eagles, a pair of kangaroos, and a couple of bears.
The segment features footage of the growing zoo, accompanied by voice-over narration which mentions several of the names given to the animals: Nina the elephant, Yanuka (Hebrew for ‘Junior’) the camel, and the horses Pony-Bimbo and Pony-Bony. There was also a train that used to run inside the zoo which allowed visitors to observe all the animals on the go. In 1992, the Biblical Zoo was relocated to the ridge under the neighbourhood of Malha – a location that is practically paradise incarnate for all the animals.

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