Photo Credit: Wikipedia

What kind of key opens a banana? A mon-key.

But enough monkeying around. If you think only people make aliyah, you’re mistaken. Animals at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo come from all over the world, and it has recently welcomed an international roster of animals.

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Why, last month alone, the zoo opened its habitats to a new mandrill named Yaroo from Amsterdam. He will be the new alpha male alongside 10 female mandrills, replacing the late Doron, who passed away last year. He will also be the surrogate father to one young male.

A new howler monkey also arrived from the Dudley Zoo, located on the grounds of an 11th century castle in West Midlands, England. If you want to pick him out when you visit the Jerusalem Zoo, he’s the black one. Adult males are black while adult females and juveniles of both genders are blond-gold.

A Red Knob Sea Star, also known as the Red Spine Star or the African Sea Star, recently arrived from Kenya. This large sea star has five conical, short thick arms. It is found in both shallow tidal pools and in reefs up to 100 meters deep in the Indian Ocean and feeds on mollusks, worms, detritus, and sponges.

 

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In other aquatic news at the zoo, a jellyfish aquarium was sponsored by Helen and Robert Levine of Teaneck, NJ, as a “gift to the children of Israel.” Bob Levine is the vice president for education of the Jewish National Fund, and the dedication took place during his 100th(!) visit to Israel.

The zoo also recently celebrated the birth of a new Negev Tortoise. One of the smallest species of tortoises in the world, the Negev Tortoise (Testudo werneri), is a sub-species of the Egyptian Tortoise and is critically endangered. Its habitat range is very small, limited to the sandy deserts of northern Egypt and Israel’s Negev desert.

The zoo is running a long-term conservation program for the tortoise. The main threats to the species are the destruction of its habitat because of the construction of military training sites, all-terrain vehicle tourism, livestock over-grazing, invasive species, and unrestricted sand removal.

Finally, we close with “Good Night Giraffes,” “Sunset with the Elephants,” and “Sleepover at the Zoo.” These might sound like new children’s books, but they are actually names of night tours given at the zoo during the summer. You might like Sleepover at the Zoo if you’re having trouble finding a hotel room during the high season!

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