Israel’s top 10 animal attractions

Published on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 by Webmaster

Israel’s top 10 animal attractions
Dolphins, crocodiles, alpacas, monkeys – you’ll see these and many other creatures in Israel’s zoos and sanctuaries. ISRAEL21c brings you the country’s top 10 places to talk to the animals.

1. The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens (Biblical Zoo), Jerusalem
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is the second most-frequented paid tourist site in Israel (Masada is No. 1), welcoming 786,429 visitors in 2011. No longer limited to biblical animals, the wheelchair-accessible park houses more than 2,000 mammals, amphibians, fish, reptiles and birds in natural habitats such as Lemur Land and the Wet Side Story aquatic pavilion.

2. Zoological Center of Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan Safari
the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan Safari is home to elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, hippos and lions wandering freely on 250 acres. It has the largest animal collection in the Middle East.

3. Coral World Underwater Observatory, Eilat
This marine park – first of its kind in the world — showcases fish and other creatures from the Red Sea. Visitors can watch feedings in the shark tank, see turtles and stingrays paddling in their pools and explore two underwater observatories and 35 aquariums filled with the Red Sea's colorful and rare forms of marine life. The center's vast coral colony is alive with about 400 species of fish.

4. Dolphin Reef, Eilat
You can spend hours gently rocking on the floating wharf at this handicap-accessible secluded beach, watching a group of eight bottlenose dolphins hunting, playing, courting and socializing. For a more up-close experience, you can sign up for a guided swim, snorkel or dive with the gentle mammals.

5. Alpaca Farm, Mitzpeh Ramon
Today's herd of 400 llamas and alpacas – possibly the largest in the world – began with 190 llamas and alpacas flown to Israel from Incan villages in the Andes Mountains. You can ride the animals or help spin their delicate and colorful wool into yarn. Tiyullama, an overnight family desert experience, provides a guide and llama, campfire and meals at the site.

6. Gan Garoo
This four-acre park provides a taste of Australia's wildlife right in Israel's Beit Shean Valley. Seven types of kangaroos, plus an assortment of cockatoos, flying foxes, laughing kookaburra, cassowary, wallaby, and emu are spread out in a landscape of eucalyptus trees and other Australian plants.

7. Afrikef Monkey Park, Kfar Daniel
The Israeli Primate Sanctuary Foundation operates Afrikef as a refuge and rehab center for hundreds of monkeys that were used in lab experiments or illegally smuggled into the country. It is located about halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv near the Ben Shemen Forest at Kfar Daniel. You'll see lemurs from Madagascar, crab-eating macaque, leaf-eating langurs and marmosets, the smallest monkeys in the world.

8. Crazy for crocodiles
Hamat Gader Park is about five miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee. In addition to its natural thermo-mineral springs and archeological areas, it boasts 40 acres of tropical parkland housing about 200 crocodiles as well as alligators and other reptiles.

9. Turtle time
The Alexander River north of Netanya is home to many soft-shell turtles a yard long and 100 pounds in weight. You'll also find coots and other waterfowl, nutrias and swamp cats on the river and its banks. On Beit Yannai Beach in the western part of the park, sea turtles come on warm summer nights to lay their eggs in small holes in the sand.

10. Birds of a feather
Some 500 million birds of 200 different species fly across Israel each spring and autumn en route to and from Africa, Europe and Asia, making Israel a major world site for bird observatories and sanctuaries.
Among the best places to spot migrating and resident birds in Israel are the International Birding and Research Center in Eilat, the International Birdwatching Center of the Jordan Valley at Kfar Ruppin, the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, the Kibbutz Lotan Ecotourism and Birdwatching Centerin the Arava Valley, the Agamon Hula Ornithology and Nature Park and Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael near the southern Carmel Mountains.

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