Zoos and Aquariums in Israel‎ – Full Review


Zoos and Aquariums in Israel‎

In this review, we go over zoos and aquariums in Israel. Then we will list the top 10. Also, we will talk about wildlife. Let’s begin!

Zoos in Israel

Let’s start with a comparison table of the biggest zoos in Israel.

Notes:

  • I visited most of the sites in this guide more than once, and the links are to my reviews. Thus if you are interested in finding out additional details about a place, check my relevant guide.
  • Some places offer coupons. And you can find additional details at the linked guides.
Hippopotamus in the open area at Ramat Gan Safari
Hippopotamus in the open area at Ramat Gan Safari
NameLocationEntrance FeeEstimated Visit DurationRating on Google
Jerusalem Biblical ZooJerusalem58 NIS per adult and 44 NIS per child2 – 5 hours4.6 based on 10,453 reviews
Ramat Gan SafariRamat Gan74 NIS per person2 – 5 hours4.4 based on 13,684 reviews
Haifa Educational ZooHaifa38 NIS per person2 – 4 hours4.4 based on 2,548 reviews
Hay ParkKiryat Motzkin55 NIS per adult and 50 NIS per child2 – 4 hours4.2 based on 206 reviews
Hai Kef ZooRishon LeTsiyon39 during weekdays and 55 on Saturdays NIS per person1 – 3 hours3.8 based on 2,004 reviews
Negev ZooBeersheba35 NIS per person1 – 3 hours4.5 based on 1,926 reviews

As you can see most places have similar ratings. And my own experience is pretty much aligned with these scores. So which one should you visit?

For most people I would suggest considering one of the first three options.

Among the first three, if you are looking for a big zoo, or simply look for an attraction in Jerusalem (that is also open on Saturday) then go with Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. And in case you are in Tel Aviv, or you want to drive through the African zone then consider Ramat Gan Safari. And lastly, if you are visiting Haifa, or looking for a more budget option, then check out Haifa Educational Zoo.

At Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
At Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

After visiting a big zoo, visiting another one might feel like more of the same. But attending an animal attraction that specializes on a species, for example, crocodiles, can be an exciting experience. Thus in the next section, we will go over animal attractions.

Animal Attractions

So far, we covered the largest zoos in Israel. But there are also many smaller places. And in this section, we will go over the most popular ones.

At Dolphin Reef in Eilat
At Dolphin Reef in Eilat, Israel

Note: the table is ordered by number of reviews.

NameLocationEntrance FeeEstimated Visit DurationRating on Google
Dolphin ReefEilat69 NIS per adult and 48 NIS per childone hour to a full day4.6 based on 7,601 reviews
Monkey ForestYodfat44 during weekdays and 48 on weekends NIS per person2 – 4 hours4.5 based on 2,080 reviews
Gan Garoo – Australian themed parkNir David59 NIS per person2 – 3 hours4.5 based on 1,983 reviews
Lachish Park – mostly deer, Nubian ibex, and zebrasAshdodfree1 – 2 hours4.4 based on 1,406 reviews
Deer forestOdem25 NIS per adult and 50 NIS per child2 – 3 hours4.4 based on 1,378 reviews
Monkey Park (Israeli Primate Sanctuary Foundation)Kfar Daniel48 NIS per person1 – 2 hours3.8 based on 1,318 reviews
Gan Hai – a small zoo with a petting cornerPetah Tikva30 NIS per adult and 24 NIS per child2 – 3 hours4.2 based on 912 reviews
Parrot FarmKfar Hess35 NIS per adult and 45 NIS per child1 – 2 hours3.9 based on 746 reviews
Crocoloco Crocodile FarmIr Ovot30 NIS per person1 hour4.4 based on 542 reviews
Hamat Gader – hot springs with an animal worldHamat Gaderat least 89 NIS per personone hour to a full day4 based on 486 reviews (Tripadvisor)
Camel Ride – one of the places for camel ridesMamshit Camel Ranchat least 65 NIS per peson1 – 4 hours4.6 based on 464 reviews
Alpaca FarmMitzpe Ramon30 NIS per person1 – 2 hours4.6 based on 210 reviews
Antelope RanchMahane Zofar30 NIS per person1 – 2 hours4.7 based on 360 reviews
Ostrich FarmMerhavim Regional Council30 NIS per person1 hour4.3 based on 270 reviews

I agree with most of the ratings. And I would draw the line at around 4. Meaning, I would probably not visit places that got a rating below 4. But keep in mind that some of these places might get a low rating because of a restaurant or a hotel on their premises. On the other hand, a site can get a high score due to its attractions for young kids, which might not be relevant to you. Thus, in any case, I would suggest checking the guides to the desired animal attractions before visiting them.

Crocoloco Crocodile Farm
At Crocoloco Crocodile Farm

Aquariums in Israel

There are two big aquariums in Israel. One in Eilat and the second in Jerusalem.

We enjoyed visiting both of them. And according to the rating, we were not the only ones.

NameLocationEntrance FeeEstimated Visit DurationRating on Google
Israel AquariumJerusalem54 NIS per adult and 45 NIS per child1.5 – 2.5 hours4.6 based on 6,461 reviews
Underwater Observatory Marine ParkEilatat least 79 NIS per peson2 – 5 hours4.5 based on 10,808 reviews
Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem
At Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem

Top 10

If we take the ten places with the highest ratings from the tables above then we get the following top 10 list.

NameRating on Google
Antelope Ranch4.7 based on 360 reviews
Jerusalem Biblical Zoo4.6 based on 10,453 reviews
Dolphin Reef4.6 based on 7,601 reviews
Camel Ride4.6 based on 464 reviews
Alpaca Farm4.6 based on 210 reviews
Israel Aquarium4.6 based on 6,461 reviews
Negev Zoo4.5 based on 1,926 reviews
Monkey Forest4.5 based on 2,080 reviews
Gan Garoo4.5 based on 1,983 reviews
Underwater Observatory Marine Park4.5 based on 10,808 reviews

And here is the top 10 according to Tripadvisor:

  1. Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
  2. Underwater Observatory Marine Park
  3. Gan Garoo
  4. Ramat Gan Safari
  5. Israel Aquarium
  6. Haifa Educational Zoo
  7. Hay Park
  8. Monkey Forest
  9. Antelope Ranch
  10. The Biblical Museum of Natural History

As you can see, both these ratings are quite similar. But as I mentioned above, the rating is not the only factor. If a site has other POI beyond animals, then the scores can be less representative. Moreover, some places are aimed towards families with young kids, while others suitable for the whole variety of ages. Therefore, check my reviews before visiting a site.

Camel ride in the Negev
Camel ride in the Negev

Wildlife

Till now, we covered animal attractions, Zoos, and Aquariums. And in this section, we will talk about wildlife.

Nubian ibex

We will start our overview with the Nubian ibex. This desert-dwelling goat is a threatened species around the world. And the reason we begin with it is Artzi. If you visited any of the National Parks And Nature Reserves in Israel, then you probably met him. Artzi is the Nubian ibex that appears on the emblem of the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.

In Israel, the historically dense ibex population, described in the Bible (Psalm 104:18), was decimated in the wake of the First World War when the sudden availability of rifles enabled Bedouin to hunt them to near extinction. After the establishment of the state, when hunting was outlawed, and nature reserves were created in which they were protected, the ibex population rebounded. Three ibex populations have been discovered in Israel: in the Judean Desert, the Negev mountains, and Eilat.

Source: Wikipedia

Following the 1955 nature protection law and the explanation activity, the population of the Nubian ibexes has grown over the years. This success story is one of the reasons for integrating Nubian ibex into the symbol of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Nubian ibex at Mitzpe Ramon
Nubian ibex at Mitzpe Ramon

The best way to find wildlife and Nubian ibex, in particular, is either look for food or water. So, here are the best places to see Nubian ibexes in Israel:

  • Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is the largest oasis in Israel. Many different species visit it all year round. At this nature reserve, you can find Nubian ibexes, rock hyraxes, foxes, wolves, birds of prey, reptiles, and many other species. And since I mentioned rock hyraxes, then you can see them also at Rosh HaNikra and Banias Nature Reserve.
  • There is a population of Nubian ibex at Makhtesh Ramon, and they are coming to Mitzpe Ramon in search of food.
  • Ein Avdat National Park, like Ein Gedi, is also a source of water in the middle of the desert. And the water attracts songbirds, rock doves, birds of prey and ibexes.

Birds

As I told in Bird Ringing at Ein Afek Nature Reserve post, there are two routes for birds that migrate to Africa. One goes through Spain and the second through Israel. Thus, Israel is one of the best places to see migrating birds.

Bird Migration routes
Bird migration routes

Currently, around 500 million birds fly above Israel twice a year, and the numbers are growing each year. The best place to see migrating birds are:

  • Agamon Hula is the most popular site. It is like a B&B for birds. There are ponds where birds can spend the night, and they also receive food. During the peak of the migration season, more than 50,000 cranes can stay for a night. And of course, there are other species as well.
  • Pelican Migration At Emek Hefer is my favorite place to see the biggest migrating bird, the pelican. In the pelican guide, I will take you to Viker lookout, Agamon Hefer, and then we will see softshell turtles At Alexander River.
  • Eilat Ornithological Park is also one of the more popular spots for birdwatching. It is especially impressive, while thousands of flamingos stay there.

And in general, the best time to see bird migration is either fall or spring (usually March – April and October – November).

Pelican migration at Emek Hefer, Israel
Pelican migration at Emek Hefer

Other Places

And finally I will list several honorable mentions:

Summary

In this post, we covered the most popular places to see wildlife, the best animal attractions, zoos, and aquariums. And I hope it will be useful and give you ideas about where to go next.

What are your favorite Zoos and Aquariums? Tell us in the comments below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned!

   

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers: And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.  
Did not find what you were looking for? Email me at [email protected], and I will do my best to answer your questions.

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